Pelosi Visit: US Warships, F-35s Take Position Near Taiwan Strait; Taiwan Keeps Forces Ready

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Taiwan's 23 million people have long lived with the possibility of an invasion, but the threat has intensified under Chinese President Xi Jinping
Representation. Taiwan's 23 million people have long lived with the possibility of a Chinese invasion.

Taiwan has reportedly ramped up its combat preparedness to take on the People's Liberation Army (PLA) after news broke out regarding House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's impending visit to the island. China has repeatedly warned the U.S. of severe countermeasures and that "the PLA will not sit idly by" if Pelosi visits Taiwan.

The island's armed forces will enter a higher state of preparedness between Tuesday and Thursday against the threat by the PLA, reported Taiwanese media CNA. 

Though not officially confirmed, Pelosi, who flew to Singapore on Monday as part of her tour of Asia, is due to spend Tuesday night in Taiwan. There are also reports that some allies have been informed about Pelosi’s visit to Taipei, and the House speaker would meet a small group of activists who are outspoken about China’s human rights record while in Taiwan. 

Taiwan’s defense ministry has issued a statement, warning it would appropriately dispatch forces in reaction to "enemy threats." The defense ministry said it had a full grasp of military activity near Taiwan, and had the "determination, ability and confidence" to ensure Taiwan’s national security. It added that it had made various unspecified plans for an emergency. 

The heightened alert does not amount to the country being put on a war footing, reports added. However, the government has not explained why the number of Mirage 2000 fighters stationed at the Taitung Air Force Zhihang Base was increased from four to 12.

Taiwan’s police have reportedly been getting ready to secure the capital for the visit. The Taipei City Police Department has plans in place for Pelosi's safety, including securing the hotel where she would stay, conducting traffic control at intersections, and deploying 350-400 officers to protect her.

Meanwhile, the U.S. has also increased its military presence in the region. According to reports, two U.S. capital ships and their escorts are operating near Taiwan. Besides the carrier USS Ronald Reagan, the big deck amphibious ship USS Tripoli with Marine F-35B Lighting II Joint Strike Fighters are currently in the vicinity of Taiwan ahead of Pelosi's visit. 

A Pentagon spokesman told USNI News on Monday that the ships were operating normally in the region. He also refused to detail force protection measures for Pelosi's visit. However, the news outlet quoted a senior defense official who claimed the ships, escorts and their air wings were prepared to linger as a contingency option.

China is also conducting a series of drills, including a live-fire exercise that aims to "test overall combat capability under complex conditions." The drills saw minuteman missile unit, anti-aircraft artillery unit, radar unit and other combat units participate in the exercise. PLA aircraft carriers Liaoning and the Shandong too are heading northward from the East China Sea, triggering speculations that they are moving towards Taiwan Strait. 


Taiwan's 23 million people have long lived with the possibility of an invasion, but the threat has intensified under Chinese President Xi Jinping

Photo: AFP / Sam Yeh

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