China Taiwan news live: Beijing's military exercises amid Pelosi visit

Taiwan news LIVE: Liz Truss slams China’s ‘inflammatory’ response to Nancy Pelosi visit as security is stepped up at island’s airports and power plants amid cyber attack fears

  • Live-fire drills by People’s Liberation Army began Tuesday and continue today
  • More exercises Thursday to Sunday take place in six locations around Taiwan
  • Taipei says drills amount to a blockade as experts warn Beijing is rehearsing war
  • Read more of MailOnline’s coverage of escalating tensions in Taiwan here 

This is MailOnline’s live blog for US Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan amid escalating tensions with China.

Host commentator

Taiwan scrambled jets on Wednesday to warn away 27 Chinese aircraft in its air defence zone, a Taiwan defence ministry statement said about the latest uptick in tensions across the sensitive Taiwan strait.

It said 22 Chinese aircraft crossed the Taiwan Strait median line.

All bets are ‘off’ if the US gets involved in tensions between China and Taiwan and sparks the biggest war in Asia since World War II, a leading Australian security experts has warned.

Australia cut its diplomatic ties with Taiwan in 1972, recognising the People’s Republic under the ‘One China’ policy. But western democracies have continued to support the island’s struggle against China’s dictatorial lurch.

Lowry Institute’s International Security Program director Sam Roggeveen has  warned Australia will need to ask some hard questions about its relationship with the US if Washington intervenes in China-Taiwan relations.

As The Project co-host Carrie Bickmore questioned China’s ‘empty threats, he stressed Beijing has always been serious about Taiwan as he outlined the potential ramifications Ms Pelosi’s visit could have for Australia.

‘If the Americans do get involved then all bets are off,’ Mr Roggeveen said.

‘We are talking about certainly the largest war that we’ve in in Asia since Vietnam and potentially the biggest war we have seen in in the world since World War II that could involve the use of nuclear weapons.’

Ms Truss, speaking on a Conservative Party leadership campaign visit in Ludlow, Shropshire, said: “I do not support China’s inflammatory language on this issue.

“It’s perfectly reasonable what is taking place and I urge China to de-escalate.”

Conservative MP Alicia Kearns said the Chinese Communist Party has tried to make Ms Pelosi’s visit a “flashpoint”, telling BBC Radio 4’s World At One: “Because they’ve placed this enormous strategic importance on the visit when they could actually have just dismissed it out of hand as nothing more than a political stunt or a low-level delegation.

“But they’re choosing to use it to draw a line in the sand and I think that shows how worried they are and how important this is for Xi Jinping as he attempts to reconsolidate his position going into the 20th national congress of the Chinese Communist Party.”

Taiwan pledged on Wednesday to step up security against possible disruptions by “overseas forces” including cyber attacks as tensions with China rise following the visit to the self-ruled island by U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

China demonstrated its outrage over the highest-level U.S. visit in 25 years to the island Beijing claims as its own with a burst of military activity in surrounding waters, summoning the U.S. ambassador in Beijing and halting several agricultural imports from Taiwan.

Pelosi arrived in Taiwan on Tuesday and left on Wednesday after pledging solidarity with the island and hailing its democracy.

Taiwan Cabinet spokesman Lo Ping-cheng told a media briefing authorities had stepped security at key infrastructure including power plants and airports and increased the cyber security alertness level across government offices.

The US & Taiwan have made provocations together first, whereas China has been compelled to act in self-defense. Any countermeasure to be taken by China would be a justified & necessary response to the US oblivion to China's repeated démarches and the US’s unscrupulous behavior.

British MPs will face ‘severe consequences’ if they follow Nancy Pelosi’s lead and visit Taiwan, China’s UK ambassador has said. 

Zheng Zeguang, speaking at a news conference in London today, told politicians ‘not to underestimate the extreme sensitivity of the Taiwan issue, and not to ‘dance to the tune of US’ by visiting.

Zheng spoke after Pelosi, US House Speaker, became the most-senior American politician to visit Taiwan in 25 years when she arrive on the island yesterday.

#Latest Wang Yi on #Pelosi's #Taiwan trip: Those who offend China will be punished –bit.ly/3OTM07ppic.twitter.com/l4prJQ75Dh

Pelosi’s dramatic trip to Taipei, defying stark threats by China, overshadowed a meeting of Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) foreign ministers in Phnom Penh, which had been expected to focus on the bloody crisis engulfing Myanmar.

ASEAN spokesman Kung Phoak, Cambodia’s deputy foreign minister, said ministers at the closed-door talks – meeting face to face for the first time since the pandemic – had expressed concern over “growing tension in the Taiwan Strait.”

“We hope that all sides will try their best to deescalate the tension there, avoid actions that may contribute to the escalation of tension and engage in dialogue,” Kung Phoak told reporters.

Taiwan expects to be the target of increased “psychological warfare” in coming days, a government official said on Wednesday, referring to misinformation campaigns meant to sway public opinion.

The official was speaking at a media briefing following a visit by U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi that angered Beijing.

The Conservative MP called for more action from the government amid rising tensions in Taiwan.

He told Sky News: “The lesson we learned from Ukraine, another dictatorial country is you don’t give into it. It’s better to push now than to allow the situation to get to somewhere where there’s going to be military action.

“I think we should go ahead with a visit, I’m afraid, I think Nancy Pelosi did the right thing by going and we should do the right thing.

Professor Steve Tsang, director of the China Institute at London’s School of Oriental and African Studies, believes it unlikely that war will break out – at least for now.

He told the BBC: “The Chinese do not as yet have the capability to take Taiwan and to take on the Americans and be certain they would win.

“The Taiwanese for obvious reasons really don’t want a war. They are not stupid. They will be the theatre of any military operations and will be most devastated by it.”

Three of the planned zones intrude into Taiwan’s waters and three are positioned to the island’s east – effectively cutting it off from the Pacific. 

Taiwan officials said the live fire drills violate United Nations rules, invade Taiwan’s territorial space and are a direct challenge to free air and sea navigation. 

China’s Eastern Theatre Command said a multi-force exercise involving the Navy, Air Force, Rocket Force, Strategic Support Force and Joint Logistics Support Force, took place in the air and sea to the north, southwest and southeast of Taiwan on Wednesday.

Chinese military practiced operations including seal and control, assault at sea and strike on land.

Analysts spoken to by Reuters say it remains unclear if China will fire cruise or ballistic missiles directly over the island, or attempt a blockade for the first time.

A leading Russian senator has vowed that Vladimir Putin will come to China’s aid if it goes to war over Taiwan.

But Vladimir Dzhabarov also pleaded for more support from Beijing for the Kremlin’s war in Ukraine.

‘I see no grounds to refuse to help China,’ said the politician who is first deputy chairman of the international committee in Russia’s Federation Council, the upper house of parliament.

‘But I would like to see a two-way movement with China. It means that we should have some benefits from this cooperation.’

There is concern in Moscow that Putin’s wooing of China has failed to produce better results in support for his war in Ukraine.

Close Putin ally Dzhabarov made clear that Russia will ready back China in any conflict over disputed island Taiwan, revelling in an anti-Western alliance.

Together with former political prisoners our delegation visited the Nat’l Human Rights Museum: a tribute to heroes who suffered & fought for Taiwan’s Democracy. Then we heard from civil society leaders on human rights. We came to listen & learn; we left inspired by their courage. pic.twitter.com/dsKa02n0Ka

Germany is striving for a de-escalation in the Taiwan Strait with international partners, said a German foreign ministry spokesperson, who added that military threats were unacceptable.

The European country retains close relations with Taiwan, which is an important partner, said the spokesperson at a regular government news conference on Wednesday.

Germany’s government supports a clear “One China” policy like the United States, added a government spokesperson.

Copper prices eased on Wednesday as worries about tensions between the United States and top metals consumer China came on top of concern that more interest rate hikes would depress global economic activity.

Three-month copper on the London Metal Exchange declined 0.5% to $7,767 a tonne by 1045 GMT, the third day of losses.

China furiously condemned the highest-level U.S. visit to Taiwan in 25 years by House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

“There’s quite a lot worry about Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan. The hopes were that after Biden took office the U.S.-China relationship would improve and now it seems to be hitting a new low,” said Naeem Aslam, chief market analyst at Ava Trade.

“What we see among investors and traders is they are worried that these new geopolitical tensions are going to have an adverse impact on demand for copper and other industrial metals.”

Our delegation had the distinct privilege of meeting with the President of Taiwan @Iingwen today.

We discussed how America & Taiwan can deepen our economic ties, further strengthen our security partnership & defend our shared democratic values. pic.twitter.com/VL509UYK4x

Chinese ally North Korea used the visit to accuse the U.S. of being “the root cause of harassed peace and security in the region,” and said it supported Beijing in the confrontation surrounding Pelosi’s visit.

“We vehemently denounce any external force’s interference in the issue of Taiwan, and fully support the Chinese government’s just stand to resolutely defend the sovereignty of the country and territorial integrity,” a government spokesperson was quoted as saying.

“The U.S. scheme to disturb the growth and development of China and its efforts for accomplishing the cause of reunification is bound to go bankrupt.”

Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno also avoided commenting on Pelosi’s Taiwan visit, but raised concern about China’s planned live-fire military exercises in the regional seas that encompass parts of Japan’s Exclusive Economic Zone.

Matsuno said Japan has conveyed Tokyo’s “concerns” to Beijing about the exercise.

“The peace and stability of the Taiwan Strait is important not only for Japan’s national security but also for the international community, and Japan’s position is that we expect peaceful solution of the issues surrounding Taiwan through dialogue,” Matsuno said.

Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, whose country’s ties with China have nosedived in recent years, declined to comment specifically Wednesday on Pelosi’s visit.

However, he noted, “We live in an era where the strategic competition and increased tension in our region and where China has taken a more aggressive posture in the region.”

“But our position on Taiwan is clear,” he added. “We don’t want to see any unilateral change to the status quo and we’ll continue to work with partners to promote peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait.”

As Beijing has erupted in anguished fury at Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan, the Speaker herself noted that a similar visit from an all-male delegation of US senators earlier this year failed to elicit such a firestorm. 

‘They made a big fuss because I’m the speaker, I guess. I don’t know if that was a reason or an excuse,’ she said during a press conference with the Taiwanese president. ‘Because they didn’t say anything when the men came.’ 

Senators Lindsey Graham (R, SC), Bob Menendez (D, NJ), Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, lead a six-member group of US senators on the trip. They traveled on a US Air Force jet, meaning the Biden administration had sanctioned the trip.  

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian called the April visit ‘condescending’ and ‘irresponsible’ at the time – a far cry from the rage and fury and live-fire military exercises that Pelosi’s visit has drawn.

Even four months ago, Chinese officials were more concerned about a potential visit from Pelosi than six male senators, with Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi calling the speaker’s planned trip a ‘red line’ for US-China relations.

Global stocks mostly rose Wednesday as traders tracked House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan, which has further strained China-US ties.

The highest profile trip to Taiwan in 25 years by a US politician met with condemnation from Beijing, which warned of serious economic and military consequences.

The news had sent shivers on Tuesday through trading floors that were already on edge over the Ukraine war, surging inflation, rising interest rates and slowing economic growth.

However, most equity markets edged upwards on Wednesday.

The Kremlin said on Wednesday that the level of tension provoked by U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan “should not be underestimated”.

Responding to a question about whether the world was closer to war, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters that he was not in favour of using that word but reiterated that the visit was a “provocation”.

He added that no additional contacts between President Vladimir Putin and Chinese leader Xi Jinping were planned in light of the visit.

Pelosi’s arrival on Tuesday in Taiwan prompted a furious response from Beijing at a time when international tensions were already elevated by the conflict in Ukraine.

Delighted to host @SpeakerPelosi & the #US House delegation to #Taiwan along with leaders from our government & tech sector. Thank you for your principled support for closer bilateral ties founded on our shared values of democracy, freedom & respect for human rights. pic.twitter.com/68aJBJeiOo

Chinese President Xi Jinping and Biden both have made clear they don’t want that. In a call with Biden last week, Xi echoed a theme of Biden’s – their countries should cooperate on areas where they can.

The biggest risk is likely an accident if China tries the kind of provocative maneuver it’s increasingly been executing with other militaries around the South China Sea. Those include close fly-bys of other aircraft or confronting vessels at sea.

However, when it comes to the United States, with the world’s strongest military, “despite a chorus of nationalistic rhetoric, China will be careful not to stumble into a conflict with colossal damages on all fronts,” said Yu Jie, a senior research fellow at the Chatham House think tank.

For China, the best approach is patience and time, Jie said – building toward the day when its economy and military could be too big for the U.S. to challenge.

While Biden has expressed some wariness about Pelosi’s trip, the administration has not openly opposed it and said it is up to Pelosi to decide whether to go.

Ahead of Pelosi’s visit, the American military increased its movements in the Indo-Pacific region. The aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan and its strike group were in the Philippine Sea on Monday, according to officials who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss military operations.

The Reagan, the cruiser USS Antietam and the destroyer USS Higgins left Singapore after a port visit and moved north toward their home port in Japan. The carrier has an array of aircraft, including F/A-18 fighter jets and helicopters, as well as sophisticated radar systems and other weapons.

Soon after Pelosi’s arrival, China announced a series of military operations and drills, which followed its promises of “resolute and strong measures” if Pelosi went through with her visit.

China’s People’s Liberation Army said the maneuvers would take place in the waters and skies near Taiwan and include the firing of long-range ammunition in the Taiwan Strait.

China’s official Xinhua News said the army planned to conduct live-fire drills from Thursday to Sunday across multiple locations. An image released by the news agency indicated that the drills were to take place in six different areas in the waters surrounding Taiwan.

Taiwan’s Defense Ministry said early Wednesday that China had sent 21 planes flying toward Taiwan, 18 of them fighter jets. The rest included an early warning plane and an electronic warfare plane.

The Biden administration, and Pelosi, say the United States remains committed to its “one-China policy.”

Taiwan and mainland China split during a civil war in 1949. But China claims the island as its own territory and has not ruled out using military force to take it.

China has been increasing both diplomatic and military pressure in recent years. It cut off all contact with Taiwan’s government in 2016 after President Tsai Ing-wen refused to endorse its claim that the island and mainland together make up a single Chinese nation, with Communist Beijing the sole legitimate government.

Beijing sees official American contact with Taiwan as encouragement to make the island’s decades-old de facto independence permanent, a step U.S. leaders say they don’t support.

Pelosi has made a mission over decades of showing support for embattled democracy movements. Those include a trip in 1991 to Tiananmen Square, where she and other lawmakers unrolled a small banner supporting democracy, as frowning Chinese security officers tried to shut them down. Chinese forces had crushed a homegrown democracy movement at the same spot two years earlier.

The speaker is framing her Taiwan trip as part of a broader mission at a time when “the world faces a choice between autocracy and democracy.” She led a congressional delegation to the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv in the spring, and her latest effort serves as a capstone to her years of promoting democracy abroad.

“We must stand by Taiwan,” she said in an opinion piece published by The Washington Post on her arrival in Taiwan. She cited the commitment that the U.S. made to a democratic Taiwan under a 1979 law.

“It is essential that America and our allies make clear that we never give in to autocrats,” she wrote.

U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi left Taiwan on Wednesday after pledging solidarity and hailing its democracy, leaving a trail of Chinese anger over her brief visit to the self-ruled island that Beijing claims as its own.

Pelosi, whose delegation made an unannounced but closely watched stop in Taiwan late on Tuesday after visits to Singapore and Malaysia, was scheduled to continue her Asian tour with stops in South Korea and Japan.

Her plane took off from an airport in the capital Taipei at around 10am this morning (6pm local time).

Ever since Communist China and Taiwan broke away from each other at the end of the Chinese Civil War in 1949 the waterway separating them has been a tense geopolitical flashpoint.

Just 81 miles wide at its narrowest point, the Taiwan Strait is a major international shipping channel and all that lies between now democratic, self-ruled Taiwan and its giant authoritarian neighbour.

Beijing has responded furiously to this week’s visit to Taiwan by US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, issuing increasingly bellicose threats and announcing a series of military drills in the waters surrounding the island.

Historians pinpoint three previous moments when tensions within the Taiwan Strait boiled over into an acute crisis.

China last night sent 21 military planes into Taiwan’s air defence zone, Taipei claimed, as Beijing boasted that it had dispatched its elite J-20 stealth fighter jets toward the tiny island nation.

Beijing’s fighter planes had earlier sent a warning as they buzzed the Taiwan Strait, the 100 mile-wide strip of water that separates the two nations, in the immediate aftermath of House of Representative speaker Nancy Pelosi’s arrival in Taipei.

Chinese media confirmed its J-20 stealth jets had taken to the skies around the island, and two of Beijing’s warships – a destroyer and a frigate – are in the seas to the east.

Asked today whether the Truss offer of military aid still stood, supporter Brandon Lewis would not commit to it. 

The former Northern Ireland Secretary told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: ‘The point Liz was making to the select committee was that we need to be giving the support early where people need it. 

‘Now, in different cases that will mean different things, it can be moral support, it could be economic support; in Ukraine’s case, yes, that was about defensive weapons support.’

China has blocked imports of citrus fruits and fish from Taiwan in retaliation for a visit by top US Democrat Nancy Pelosi to the self-ruled island.

The two sides, which split in 1949 after a civil war, have no official relations but multibillion-dollar business ties, especially in the flow of Taiwanese-made processor chips needed by Chinese factories that assemble the world’s smartphones and other electronics.

They built that business while Beijing threatened for decades to enforce the ruling Communist Party’s claim to the island by attacking.

On Wednesday, Beijing blocked imports of citrus fruits and frozen mackerel from Taiwan after Ms Pelosi, speaker of the House of Representatives, arrived in Taiwan late on Tuesday.

But the ruling party avoided disrupting the flow of chips and other industrial components, a step that would send shockwaves through the shaky global economy.

Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen insisted that the island of 23 million would not be cowed by China’s actions in the last few hours.

“Facing deliberately heightened military threats, Taiwan will not back down. We will… continue to hold the line of defence for democracy,” Tsai said at an event with Pelosi in Taipei.

She also thanked the 82-year-old US lawmaker for “taking concrete actions to show your staunch support for Taiwan at this critical moment”.

China insisted Wednesday its military exercises around the Taiwan Strait were “necessary and just” in the wake of US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to the self-ruled island.

“The Chinese military’s conducting of military exercises in the sea near China’s Taiwan are a necessary and just measure to resolutely protect national sovereignty,” foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told a regular briefing.

“In the current struggle surrounding Pelosi’s Taiwan visit, the United States are the provocateurs, China is the victim. The joint provocation by the US and Taiwan came first, China’s just defense came after,” she added.

After her high-profile summit with President Tsai Ing-wen, Ms Pelosi then visited a human rights museum in Taipei.

This morning she was seen waving from the steps of her plane out of the country, as she departs for South Korea, the next stop on an Asia tour that also includes Singapore, Malaysia and Japan.

Major concerns have been sparked in the tech industry over supply if China were to invade Taiwan amid the rising tensions between the two countries.

Experts have said that the most-advanced chip factory in the world on the island would be rendered ‘not operable’, plunging the global supply chain into chaos – resulting in a shortage of smartphones, computers and brake sensors.

Apple’s chipmaker, the Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC), has warned that a war between Taiwan and China would make ‘everybody losers,’ sparking economic turmoil.

Brandon Lewis this morning refusing to go as far as ally Liz Truss over UK arms for Taiwan. She mooted supplying Taipei in June but he suggested to @BBCr4today this morning that aid could be more 'moral and economic' amid heightened China tensions over #pelositaiwan

China’s foreign minister, Wang Yi, branded the trip a ‘complete farce’ and repeated the much-used phrase by Chinese diplomacy that ‘those who play with fire will perish by it.’

Last week Chinese premier Xi Jinping had used the same expression in a phone call to US President Joe Biden.

Early on Wednesday, the Chinese foreign ministry slammed Pelosi for ‘brazenly’ going ahead with the trip that was still unconfirmed as late as Monday, claiming it ‘maliciously infringes on China’s sovereignty and blatantly engages in political provocations.’

‘It proves once again that some US politicians have become ‘troublemakers’ of China-US relations,’ the statement said. 

Taiwan views itself as an independent nation separate from mainland China, but Beijing views it as a breakaway province that it has vowed to ‘reunify’.

The island is home to the remnants of the Nationalist Party which fought against, and lost, a war to China’s Communist Party after the Second World War.

America officially recognised the Communists as legitimate rulers of China in 1979 when they established diplomatic relations with Beijing, which also involved acknowledging that there is only ‘one China’ and Taiwan is part of it.

However, Congress passed a bill shortly afterwards that compels the US to supply arms to Taiwan to allow it to defend itself in the event it is attacked.

An uneasy truce has held around the island ever since, but tensions have been ramping up since President Xi Jinping said in 2019 that he reserves the right to ‘reunify’ Taiwan by force, if it is deemed necessary.

US Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi – who on Tuesday became the most-senior politician to visit Taiwan since 1997, when China was last engaged in sabre-rattling – refused to back down, defiantly telling Beijing that the US ‘will not abandon its commitment’ as she met with President President Tsai Ing-wen in Taipei.

‘Today the world faces a choice between democracy and autocracy’ she said in a short speech during a meeting with Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen.

‘America’s determination to preserve democracy, here in Taiwan and around the world, remains ironclad.’

China will surround Taiwan and effectively blockade the island with massive military drills in the most-serious threat to its independence in decades as Beijing escalates tensions over Nancy Pelosi’s visit. 

Six days of military exercises kicked off Tuesday with live-fire drills in and around the Taiwan strait that will last through today, as authoritarian China attempts to intimidate its democratic neighbour and pressure the US into dropping its support for the self-governing island.

Four more days of drills will then commence on Thursday and last until Sunday, taking place in six locations around the country – three of which cross into its territorial waters in what Taipei has today called a serious breach of international norms.

Welcome to MailOnline’s live coverage of escalating tensions in Taiwan. We’ll be providing regular updates on Nancy Pelosi’s visit, the response of China and reaction from around the globe throughout the day.

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