China announces military drill against Taiwan after warning Pelosi to drop plans to visit

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) holds her weekly press conference on Capitol Hill Friday, July 29, 2022 in Washington, DC.

Kent Nishimura | Los Angeles Times | Getty Images

China said it was conducting military exercises off its coast opposite Taiwan on Saturday after warning Speaker Nancy Pelosi of the US House of Representatives to drop possible plans to visit the island democracy , which Beijing claims as part of its territory.

The ruling Communist Party’s military wing, the People’s Liberation Army, was conducting “live-fire drills” near the Pingtan Islands off Fujian province from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m., the official Xinhua news agency said. . The Maritime Safety Administration has warned ships to avoid the area.

Such exercises usually involve artillery. The one-sentence announcement gave no indication whether Saturday’s drill could also include missiles, fighter jets or other weapons.

Pelosi, who would be the highest elected American to visit Taiwan since 1997, has not yet confirmed whether she will go. President Xi Jinping warned his American counterpart, Joe Biden, in a phone call on Thursday against “external interference” in Beijing’s relations with the island.

China says Taiwan has no right to conduct foreign relations. He sees visits from US officials as encouragement for the island to formalize its decades-old de facto independence.

The Department of Defense warned Washington this week not to allow Pelosi, who is on par with Biden as head of one of the three branches of government, to travel to Taiwan. A spokesman said the PLA would take unspecified “strong measures” to stop pro-independence activities.

The PLA has flown increasing numbers of fighter jets and bombers near Taiwan and has in the past fired missiles at shipping lanes towards the island.

Taiwan and China separated in 1949 after a civil war that ended in a communist victory on the mainland.

The two governments say they are one country but disagree on who gets the national leadership. They have no official relations but are linked by billions of dollars in trade and investment.

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