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Defense Department Warns China Could Fire Missiles In Taiwan Strait Over Pelosi Visit




On Monday, Defense Department Press Secretary John Kirby warned that China could respond to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-CA) expected visit of Taiwan by “firing missiles in the Taiwan Strait or around Taiwan.”

“We have been clear from the very beginning that [Pelosi] will make her own decisions and that Congress is an independent branch of government,” Kirby said. “Our Constitution embeds a separation of powers.  This is well known to the PRC, given our more than four decades of diplomatic relations.  The Speaker has the right to visit Taiwan, and a Speaker of the House has visited Taiwan before without incident, as have many members of Congress, including this year.”

However, Kirby warned that responses from China “could include military provocations such as firing missiles in the Taiwan Strait or around Taiwan; operations that break historical norms such as large-scale air entry into Taiwan’s Air Defense Identification Zone,” he listed, “air or naval activities that cross the median line; and military exercises that can be highly publicized.”

“Last time Beijing fired missiles into the Taiwan Strait was 1995 and 1996, after Beijing reacted provocatively to Taiwan’s president’s visit to deliver an address at his alma mater,” Kirby said. “I want to contrast this now between the United States and China.  We and countries around the world believe escalation serves no one.  Beijing’s actions could have unintended consequences that only serve to increase tensions.”

“Meanwhile, our actions are not threatening and they break no new ground.  Nothing about this potential visit — potential visit — which, oh, by the way, has precedent — would change the status quo.  And the world should reject any PRC effort to use it to do so,” Kirby added. “We will not take the bait or engage in saber-rattling.  At the same time, we will not be intimidated.  We will keep operating in the seas and the skies of the Western Pacific as we have for decades.  We will continue to support cross-Strait peace; stability; support Taiwan, of course; defend a free and open Indo-Pacific.  And we’re still going to seek to maintain lines of communication with Beijing.”

China issued numerous threats after news broke of Pelosi’s plan to visit Taiwan, with one Chinese state-media propogandist warning that China could shoot down Pelosi’s plane.

“If US fighter jets escort Pelosi’s plane into Taiwan, it is invasion,” said Hu Xijin, who is now the editor of China’s government-run Global Times. “The PLA has the right to forcibly dispel Pelosi’s plane and the US fighter jets, including firing warning shots and making tactical movement of obstruction. If ineffective, then shoot them down.”

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