Tuesday, 2 August 2022 — Global Times
By Wang Qi
A naval fleet comprised of the guided-missile destroyers Ningbo (Hull 139) and Taiyuan (Hull 131), as well as the guided-missile frigate Nantong (Hull 601), steams in astern formation in waters of the East China Sea during a maritime training drill. Photo:China Military
The Chinese Foreign Ministry and the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) are keeping up the pressure on the US over House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s potential visit to the island of Taiwan, urging the US to honor US President Joe Biden’s promise to not support “Taiwan independence,” while media outlets from the US and Taiwan reported that Pelosi is expected to visit the island shortly.
In celebration of the 95th anniversary of the founding of the PLA, the PLA Eastern Theater Command on Monday released a video on social media, along with the message “We are fully prepared for any eventuality. Fight upon order, bury every intruder, move toward joint and successful operation!” The video has become one of the hottest topics on Sina Weibo, China’s Twitter-like social media platform. The hashtag on the topic has received at least 42.5 million views, with many netizens seeing it as a clear warning to Pelosi, who could make a surprise and provocative trip to China’s Taiwan island.
Citing “officials”, Taiwan-based Next TV on Monday said Pelosi is expected to stay in Taipei overnight at the Grand Hyatt hotel in Xinyi district, but it’s unclear exactly when she will arrive. CNN also released similar information, saying that “Pelosi is expected to visit Taiwan as part of her tour of Asia,” according to a senior official from the Taiwan authorities and a US official.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian also said at a routine Monday press conference, “If you play with fire, you will get burned. I believe the US is fully aware of the strong and clear message delivered by China.”
If Pelosi visits the island of Taiwan, “the PLA will not sit idly by” and will take “resolute and strong countermeasures” to protect China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. As to what these measures are, Zhao said “if she dares to go, let’s wait and see.”
What the US should do now is to fulfill US President Joe Biden’s promise of not supporting “Taiwan Independence” secessionism, and not arrange for House Speaker Pelosi to visit the island of Taiwan, Zhao stressed while answering questions related to Pelosi’s Asia trip.
Chinese analysts said this new warning is a clear signal that if Pelosi goes to Taiwan, China will see it as a provocative action permitted by the Biden administration rather than a personal decision made by Pelosi, and it would be a serious incident that means the US has violated its promise.
Lü Xiang, an expert on US studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times on Monday that any arrangement serving Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan would be a breach of the White House’s commitment not to support “Taiwan independence.”
“Arrangement” refers to any assistance provided by the administration (including from the US military) for the visit, in particular, transportation, security, communications, intelligence, and so on, Lü said. If Pelosi really goes to Taiwan, “my understanding is that it has received Biden’s permission, and the US military will also provide support to her,” he said.
This means China’s retaliation will not just target Pelosi, the Biden administration will also have to face the serious consequence of a comprehensive setback of China-US relations, analysts said.
China’s strategic view is far greater than just playing a game of hawk-and-chicken with Pelosi on her so-called surprise visit to the island, as China will use this provocative move by the US to irreversibly change the Taiwan Straits situation and speed up the reunification process, which is actually much more important than a US politician’s visit, said experts.
If the US believes Pelosi’s adventurist move can open a new door for Washington on the Taiwan question, that would be too naive, said experts, noting that it could only end the US strategy of coercion on Taiwan. No one should underestimate China’s determination for its reunification and rejuvenation, and the Russia-Ukraine crisis has just let the world see the consequence of pushing a major power into a corner, said analysts. China will steadily speed up its process of reunification and declare the end of US domination of the world order, they said.
And Pelosi’s stubbornness and selfishness would mark the beginning of the end of US hegemony, analysts noted.
US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi speaks during a press conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., the United States, on Sept. 17, 2020. (Photo by Ting Shen/Xinhua)
Politico reported that the Pentagon is preparing for Pelosi’s potential Taiwan trip, and is likely to offer a military aircraft. Pelosi said on Friday that she wants Congress “to be part of Biden administration’s strategy in the Indo-Pacific,” according to media.
On Sunday, the RFI reported that Pelosi will fly to Taiwan island via the Philippines’ Clark Air Base on August 4 and meet with the island’s regional leader Tsai Ing-wen.
Taiwan-based media reported that aircraft from the PLA, the US military and the Taiwan authorities entered Taiwan’s self-proclaimed southwest air defense identification zone on Monday morning. It said the treacherous atmosphere was caused by Pelosi’s potential visit.
Wait in resolute array
Monday also marks the first day of Pelosi’s Asia tour, which runs from August 1 to 5 and includes Singapore, Malaysia, South Korea and Japan according to her announced itinerary, but a Taiwan tour is still up in the air. One day before Pelosi’s Asia trip, China’s PLA conducted mock air combat training after midnight, with the aim of improving the pilots’ ability to quickly enter combat status for abnormal situations at any time.
This is a clear signal sent by the PLA that China is fully capable of setting up an all-weather defense for intercepting any aircraft seeking to enter the island from any direction, said experts. Analysts suggested that the PLA could send warplanes to intercept her plane should she attempt to land in Taiwan.
A grand national flag-raising ceremony is held at Tian’anmen Square in Beijing as China marks the 95th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Liberation Army, on August 1, 2022. Thousands of people came to witness the flag being raised as the sun rose. Photo: VCG
According to the latest ship tracking information, the USS Ronald Reagan, which is likely to be escorting Pelosi, has entered the Philippine Sea. Analysts said its path and deployment is likely cooperating with Pelosi’s schedule.
Whether Pelosi visits or not, China needs to maintain the ability to drive out enemies regularly across the Taiwan Straits, and be prepared to face military conflicts brought about by the US and Japan’s intervention, Chinese military expert Song Zhongping told the Global Times. He called for the establishment of a danger zone to deal with the situation of entering Taiwan airspace.
Fu Qianshao, a Chinese military aviation expert, told the Global Times that China’s military aircraft are capable of regular patrols around the island of Taiwan. In addition, the PLA army, navy and air force are far more capable of intercepting and striking than they were during the Taiwan Straits crisis of 1996.
“If Pelosi’s aircraft enters our exercise area, we would have to take measures to eject, intercept, escort, and send a radio warning… If Pelosi gets her way, our warplanes may fire shells diagonally ahead of Pelosi’s plane as a further warning,” Fu said.
Fu said that in the “first island chain,” China’s military advantage is much greater than that of the US military, and if there is a real military conflict, the US military escort will not be of much use in protecting Pelosi.
“If Pelosi were to land at Taipei’s Songshan Airport on a US military executive flight C-40, would the accompanying escorts be expected to land with her in Taipei as well? Any landing of US military aircraft would be a serious violation of China’s red line and would create a bigger crisis on top of Pelosi’s,” said Herman Shuai, a retired army lieutenant general in the island of Taiwan.
Chiu Yi, a Taiwan-based cross-Straits expert, told the Global Times that it is highly likely that Pelosi will enter Taiwan from the eastern side of the island, avoiding the western side where the PLA is heavily deployed.
“But isn’t it hilarious that the No 3. political figure in the world’s No.1 country is hiding like a rat and being smug about it? ” Chiu said.
No matter how Pelosi comes to Taiwan, the PLA’s prepared countermeasures will be implemented, and neither a shorter nor a lower profile stay would result in a lower intensity response, Lü said.
The Chinese mainland could declare regular airspace control over all or part of the island if Pelosi made the visit, the expert said, “If the US moves one step forward on the Taiwan question, China will move two.”
In the future, it may conduct flights close to the island and emphasize jurisdiction over the region’s airspace and territorial waters, Lü said. China has no interest in getting involved in a spat with an 82-year-old lady, nor is it aiming for conflict with the US military, but if they get involved in China’s core interests, we will definitely fight back in kind, Lü said.
He said Pelosi’s trip to Asia will not be welcomed by the most countries in Asia, as the losses from any possible conflict would be huge for the region rather than the US.