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China halts live-fire drills near Taiwan

Tensions between the United States and China have risen over speculation that US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi may visit Taiwan.

Apparently, as a warning to Washington, the Chinese military conducted live-fire exercises near Taiwan on Saturday. As authorities announced, parts of the waters off Fujian Province were closed. The region is located north of the Taiwan Strait, which separates mainland China from the island of the Republic of Taiwan.

In announcing the trip, which begins on Sunday, Pelosi left open whether it will stop in Taiwan. Only stations in Singapore, Malaysia, South Korea and Japan are mentioned. Media reports went without comment on the mention of those around her that she was also considering a visit to Taiwan. China has warned strongly about this and threatened the consequences. At 82 years old, the oldest Democratic politician ranks third in the United States after the President and Vice President.

“Today, our Congressional delegation travels to the Indo-Pacific to reaffirm America’s strong and unwavering commitment to our allies and friends in the region,” Pelosi said. The politician is accompanied by members of Congress. She added that the focus is on “mutual security, economic partnership and democratic governance in the Indo-Pacific region”.

Luftwaffe fly patrols

The Chinese army tried to increase the pressure. The Air Force patrolled near Taiwan. Spokesman Shen Jinqi stressed that the air force “has the firm will, full confidence and sufficient capacity to defend China’s national sovereignty and territorial integrity,” as quoted by the party’s People’s Daily. The United States sent the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan to the South China Sea last week. The US military spoke of a long-planned flight and “routine patrol”.

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The communist leadership considers Free Taiwan to be part of the People’s Republic and wants to isolate it internationally. On the other hand, the island republic of 23 million people has long considered itself independent. Since the Russian invasion of Ukraine, fears of an invasion by China have grown. The United States has committed itself to Taiwan’s ability to defend itself – which so far has meant primarily arms delivery.

Foreign politicians as a provocation

The Chinese leadership regards the visits of foreign politicians to Taiwan as a provocation. Beijing has threatened dire consequences if Democrat Pelosi visits Taiwan. In a phone call with US President Joe Biden on Thursday, head of state and party leader Xi Jinping warned his counterpart: “Those who play with fire will perish.” Biden responded cautiously to reports of a visit to Taiwan: “I don’t think the military thinks it’s a good idea right now.”

Recently, a whole series of parliamentary delegations from the United States and the European Union visited Taiwan, including Nicolas Beer (FDP), Vice President of the European Parliament last week. While Beijing has left it with verbal warnings, the visit of the top American representative will have another political character.