China is likely to declare a no-fly zone over Taiwan ahead of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's scheduled visit to the island state. Beijing had unequivocally said the high-profile visit to Taiwan was an act of provocation from the United States.
The US authorities are concerned about the Chinese move, which could ratchet up tensions in the region, according to CNN. A delegation led by Pelosi is scheduled to visit Taipei in August, the Financial Times reported earlier this week. The Chinese foreign ministry quickly reacted, saying such a visit would have serious consequences.
"If Speaker Pelosi visits Taiwan, it would seriously violate the one-China principle and the stipulations in the three China-US joint communiquÃ©s and harm China's sovereignty and territorial integrity. It will have a severe negative impact on the political foundation of China-US relations, and send a gravely wrong signal to "Taiwan independence" separatist forces. China firmly opposes such a visit," Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Zhao Lijian said.
In April, a group of US lawmakers led by the chairman of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee Bob Menendez and senior Republican Senator Lindsey Graham visited Taiwan. However, the planned visit by Pelosi is seen by Beijing as a grave upfront against its claims over Taiwan.
The Chinese foreign ministry repeated the threat of serious consequences days after Pelosi's travel plans were revealed. Beijing will take 'countermeasures' should the US side insist on going ahead with Pelosi's visit," the foreign ministry said.
"If Speaker Pelosi visits Taiwan, it would seriously violate the one-China principle and the stipulations in the three China-US joint communique and harm China's sovereignty and territorial integrity," spokesperson Wang Wenbin said.
China considers self-ruling Taiwan as a renegade province and hasn't abandoned the possibility of using force to annex the island. The power balance tilted in Beijing's favour back in the early 1970s when the United States recognized the People's Republic of China and started diplomatic relations with Beijing. According to Beijing, the island's reunification with the mainland is a primary need. China insists that it is the only large nation in the world that is yet to be completely reunified.
Chinese government mouthpiece Global Times said in an editorial that visit to Taiwan by Pelosi will be a definite red line. "China is resolute in defending national sovereignty and territorial integrity, and has the right to take forceful measures against "Taiwan independence" secessionist forces and extraterritorial forces at any time in accordance with changes in the situation, including against the trip and Pelosi herself," the media outlet said.
Adding fuel to the fire, an influential former editor of the Global Times said China should send fighter jets into Taiwan's self-declared air defence zone to escort Pelosi's plane.
"When sending PLA aircraft to fly across the island, we [China] must be fully prepared for an all-out military confrontation," and "we have no intention to make the war to be fought now, but no doubt, we are the one that fears the least if the war explodes now," said Hu Xijin, the former editor-in-chief of the Global Times.
Days ago, President Joe Biden told the White House reporters the military thinks it may be a bad idea for Pelosi to visit Taiwan at the moment. "The military thinks it's not a good idea right now ...But I don't know what the status of it is," Biden said.
It will be a huge setback for Taipei if Washington goes back on the high-profile visit.