China on Tuesday threatened to surround Taiwan with its forces later this week for live-fire military exercises, in retaliation to U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to the self-ruling island that Beijing claims as its own.
The exercises, which will last from Thursday and Sunday according to state media Xinhua, will take place after Pelosi has left the island. She landed for a whirlwind visit, including a meeting with Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen, on Tuesday.
“As the current leader of the U.S. Congress, no matter what reasons Speaker Pelosi visits Taiwan with, it is an escalation of U.S.-Taiwan official exchanges and a major political provocation,” the Chinese foreign ministry said in a statement minutes after her plane touched down at Taipei’s Songshan Airport just before 11 p.m. local time.
Supporting Taiwan’s independence, the ministry added, “is a very dangerous act of playing with fire, and those who play with fire will burn themselves.”
In a statement, Pelosi, the first U.S. speaker to visit Taiwan in 25 years, said her visit “honors America’s unwavering commitment to supporting Taiwan’s vibrant democracy.”
Her trip has escalated tensions over the Taiwan Strait, with concerns mounting over whether the Chinese military’s effective blockade of Taiwan — a major exporter of microchips and other tech products — will evolve into a longer-term threat amid the West’s preoccupation with the Ukraine crisis.