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China sends 21 fighter jets plus J-20 fifth generation warplanes into Taiwan’s air defence zone

China sent 21 military planes into Taiwan’s air defense zone tonight, Taipei claimed, while Beijing boasted it had sent its elite J-20 stealth fighter jets to the small island nation.

Beijing’s warplanes had previously sent a warning as they zoomed the Taiwan Strait, the 100-mile-wide stretch of water separating the two nations, in the immediate aftermath of the arrival of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in Taipei.

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

The Global times reported: ‘Additional important exercises’ [were] announced for the next few days.’

The firing of rockets into the Taiwan Strait would be the first such act since 1995, the last time there was major concern about the possibility of all-out war.

United States House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was greeted by Taiwanese Foreign Minister Joseph Wu (left) as she stepped off the plane for a short trip in the capital Taipei in recent hours.

United States House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was greeted by Taiwanese Foreign Minister Joseph Wu (left) as she stepped off the plane for a short trip in the capital Taipei in recent hours.

Taiwan's Ministry of Defense posted images of Chinese aircraft violating its defense zone

Taiwan’s Ministry of Defense posted images of Chinese aircraft violating its defense zone

Beijing's fifth-generation J-20 stealth fighter jet is among the most advanced in the world (photo from September 2021 air show).  They were reportedly sent to Taiwan tonight

Beijing’s fifth-generation J-20 stealth fighter jet is among the most advanced in the world (photo from September 2021 air show). They were reportedly sent to Taiwan tonight

Photos posted to the Chinese social network Weibo appeared to show tanks gathering on the coast of Fujian, the closest point in mainland China to the island.

In bizarre scenes, beachgoers watched as dozens of tanks rolled across the sand.

Columns of armored vehicles were also seen driving through the nearby city of Xiamen, and a video posted to state media sites earlier this week showed Chinese military hardware and urged troops to “be ready to fight on command, bury all incoming enemies.”

China considers Taiwan its territory and has signaled through repeated warnings that a visit by the US Speaker of the House of Representatives would be a major insult.

The Taiwan Ministry of Defense has published this map of the maneuvers of the Chinese aircraft

The Taiwan Ministry of Defense has published this map of the maneuvers of the Chinese aircraft

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Taiwan's Ministry of Defense released a series of images of the offending aircraft today

Taiwan’s Ministry of Defense released a series of images of the offending aircraft today

Ms Pelosi’s US military C-40C plane took an indirect route to Taiwan from Malaysia yesterday in an apparent attempt to avoid being intercepted by Chinese planes before landing at 10:30 p.m. local time.

The Beijing Foreign Ministry said: “These moves, like playing with fire, are extremely dangerous. Those who play with fire will perish by it.’

Nathan Ruser, a researcher at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, said the hastily announced military exercises, scheduled to last until Sunday, were “unequivocally escalating” and “China’s most provocative actions in decades.” [which] would qualify for the UN definition of state aggression.”

Taipei Ministry of Defense said the ‘Chinese maneuvers are intended to psychologically intimidate our citizens’ [but] we are closely monitoring the situation and have strengthened our preparations’. “We have confidence and the ability to protect our safety,” it added.

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Surrounded: China plans live-fire military exercises around Taiwan from Aug. 4-7, Xinjua News Agency announced

Surrounded: China plans live-fire military exercises around Taiwan from Aug. 4-7, Xinjua News Agency announced

Ms Pelosi’s visit comes amid fears that China could invade self-ruled Taiwan to unite the island with the mainland.

The US, like the UK, does not maintain formal diplomatic relations with Taiwan, but it is seen as a bulwark against China’s influence in Asia and Joe Biden has vowed to defend it.

In a statement released shortly after her landing, Ms. Pelosi said the visit was to “honor America’s unwavering commitment to supporting Taiwan’s vibrant democracy.”

The 82-year-old speaker said the trip to Asia, with stops in Singapore, South Korea and Japan, was “focused on mutual security, economic partnership and democratic governance” rather than changing US policy.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi's Air Force plane — with its signature blue and white colors and American flag on the tail — landed in Taipei at 10:45 PM local time

Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s Air Force plane — with its signature blue and white colors and American flag on the tail — landed in Taipei at 10:45 PM local time

She said, “America’s solidarity with Taiwan’s 23 million people is more important than ever today as the world faces a choice between autocracy and democracy.”

In an article for the Washington Post, which went online after her arrival, Ms. Pelosi escalated her rhetoric, saying Taiwan’s democracy was “under threat.”

She wrote that the US Department of Defense had concluded that the increase in military activity by the Chinese meant they “probably” intended to use force to take the island. Ms Pelosi criticized China’s “poor record of human rights and disregard for the rule of law,” going on as “President Xi Jinping tightens his grip on power.”

She wrote: ‘We can’t stand by if the CCP [Chinese Communist Party] is going to threaten Taiwan – and democracy itself.”

In a phone call with President Xi last week, Mr Biden explained that he could not control Ms Pelosi because Congress is an independent branch of government. Ordering her not to go would also have been seen as succumbing to Chinese pressure.

The speaker has been a staunch critic of China throughout her three decades in Congress, and 30 years ago she unfolded a banner in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square commemorating those killed in the bloody crackdown in 1989 against pro-democracy protesters. . Ms Pelosi was also a strong supporter of the 2019 freedom protests in Hong Kong.

She was due to meet the president of Taiwan today and visit the country’s parliament during the trip, which was not officially announced and will take at least a day.

Barricades were erected outside the Grand Hyatt Hotel in Taipei, where Ms Pelosi was expected to remain under increased security.

The visit showed “solid” support from Washington, Taiwan said. But there were some protests against her presence. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said the trip would have “serious consequences” for America. During his phone call with Mr. Biden, President Xi warned him against “playing with fire” over Taiwan.

In addition to the tensions, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov warned that Ms Pelosi’s visit would “exacerbate the situation in the region” and that it would fully support China.

The US military is expected to increase its movements in the region during the visit.

The White House defended Pelosi’s right to go to Taiwan even as President Joe Biden’s administration pointed out that the speaker is making its own decisions, leading another branch of government, and that there are no changes to the one-China policy of the United States.

The government also warned Beijing not to harm the speaker.

Eight US F-15 fighter jets and five tanker planes have taken off from a US base in Okinawa to provide protection for Pelosi’s flight, NHK reported.

Taiwan gave Pelosi a warm welcome. The island’s tallest building, TAIPEI 101, was lit with a welcome message to Speaker Pelosi and supporters held up welcome signs at the hotel where she is said to be staying.

Her visit, which has never been announced publicly for security reasons, is part of a wider journey she is taking to Singapore, Malaysia, South Korea and Japan.

“Our discussions with the Taiwanese leadership will focus on reaffirming our support for our partner and advancing our shared interests, including promoting a free and open Indo-Pacific region. America’s solidarity with Taiwan’s 23 million people is more important than ever today as the world faces a choice between autocracy and democracy,” Pelosi said.

And she affirmed America’s one-China policy.

“Our visit is one of many congressional delegations to Taiwan—and it in no way contradicts the long-standing United States policy, guided by the Taiwan Relations Act of 1979, the US-China Joint Communiqués and the Six Assurances. The United States continues to resist unilateral attempts to change the status quo,” she noted.

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