The Chinese Air Force will circle Taiwan with fighter jets if necessary “ensuring national sovereignty and territorial integrity”, said a spokesman on Sunday. US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is heading to the region, but it is not yet clear whether she will go ahead with a controversial visit to Taiwan, which Beijing is strongly opposing.
Speaking at a military air show on Sunday, Air Force spokesman Shen Jinke said China has many types of aircraft that can circle “this precious island of our motherland.”
Chinese Air Force “has the determination, full confidence and sufficient ability to defend national sovereignty and territorial integrity”, Shen added, according to a Reuters report citing Chinese state media.
Shen’s statement came as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi left for Asia and announced on Sunday that she would stop in Singapore, Malaysia, South Korea and Japan for “high level meetings.” Pelosi had planned to visit Taiwan during this trip, but in recent days has stopped confirming or denying whether she would go through with this plan.
Beijing considers Taiwan, which has been ruled by a separate government since the late 1940s, as part of its territory and opposes high-level diplomatic recognition from the island’s authorities. Washington officially recognizes but does not endorse Beijing’s sovereignty over the island.
Should Pelosi continue her visit, she would be the first speaker of the House of Representatives to do so since Newt Gingrich made the trip in 1997.
During a telephone conversation with Biden on Thursday, Chinese President Xi Jinping warned the US leader not to do so “playing with fire,” warning him that a visit by Pelosi would be seen as a challenge to the country’s national sovereignty and territorial integrity. Biden himself said last week that a visit from the speaker would be “not a good idea,” but did not immediately advise her not to go.
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