China has vowed to “fight to the death” as warships, tanks and fighter jets have been deployed over Taiwan amid fears war could erupt.
Beijing is furious and is threatening to take action because the US accuses them of provoking the breakaway island, which the Communist Party has long claimed belongs to China.
At least two Chinese warships – a destroyer and a frigate – have been spotted hiding on the island, and Chinese warplanes have buzzed near the dividing line in the Taiwan Strait.
And chilling footage shows a column of amphibious tanks on beaches just miles from Kinmen Island – the closest point between China and Taiwan.
China is also reportedly preparing to send its aircraft carriers to match US deployments in the region, including the USS Ronald Reagan and her strike group currently operating near Taiwan.
Both the 66,000 ton carriers Liaoning and Shandong are now at sea, according to Chinese state media.
Chinese leader Xi Jinping has vowed to retake Taiwan – which has strong, but unofficial – US support.
Despite recent warnings from Joe Biden, it has always been unclear whether Washington would intervene militarily if China attacked Taiwan.
But resolve on both sides is now being stretched to breaking point, with US Speaker and vocal China critic Nancy Pelosi making an expected visit to the island.
She is second only to Vice President Kamala Harris for the presidency.
And if the trip goes ahead, she will be the most senior US politician to visit the island – which will infuriate China.
The prospect of the meeting has also raised a crisis that could escalate into war, with China warning that its military will “not sit idle” and threatening “serious consequences”.
China sees any engagement between Washington and Taiwan’s capital Taipei as US support for the island’s independence.
Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told a regular press conference in Beijing that “the United States will bear the responsibility and pay the price for endangering China’s sovereign security interests.”
Both China and Taiwan are playing war games ahead of Pelosi’s possible visit.
Her plane has now taken off from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia – and is likely headed for Taiwan.
The world will be waiting with bated breath to see if it lands in Taipei in the next four hours – and what the response will be from China.
Chinese propaganda released yesterday showed their army as soldiers in the clip vowed to fight to the death.
“We are fully prepared for any eventuality. Fight on command, bury every intruder and move towards joint and successful operations,” the military said, according to Chinese state media tabloid The Global Times.
“We are PLA soldiers, we swear to defend the motherland till we die.”
The newspaper – which has a circulation of more than two million – is often seen as the unfiltered mouthpiece of the Communist Party.
“Based on what I know, in response to Pelosi’s possible visit to Taiwan, Beijing has prepared a series of countermeasures, including military actions,” said Hu Zijin, the paper’s editor.
He warned: “Come on [Pelosi] Go to Taiwan. But pray before you depart: wish yourself a safe journey and lest history define you as the sinner who started the escalating process of expanding military conflict in the Taiwan Strait.
The paper also quoted a “Chinese military aviation expert” who warned that Beijing’s fighter jets could fire warning shots at Pelosi’s plane as it approaches Taiwan.
Fu Qianshao Siad: “If Pelosi’s plane enters our exercise area, we will have to take measures to evacuate, intercept, escort and send radio warnings.
“If Pelosi gets her way, our warplanes may fire diagonally ahead of Pelosi’s plane as further warning.”
And he quotes “Taiwan Straits expert” Chiu Yi who said Pelosi is “hiding like a rat” — claiming the politician would enter Taiwan from the east to avoid Chinese forces in the west.
U.S. officials have already raised concerns about Pelosi’s safety during the visit, which neither the White House nor President Joe Biden have explicitly confirmed.
And in an ominous phone call on Thursday, Biden was warned by President Xi Jinping: “Those who play with fire will perish.”
This makes China’s public acknowledgment that it will take “strong measures” against the House Speaker even more alarming.
China’s PLA Eastern Theater Command has released a dramatic video demonstrating its military capabilities in what appears to be another warning.
The caption of the relevant clip reads: “Stand ready and fight, bury any enemy that comes.”
And the country has sounded its chilling “war signal” in official circles – issued before its last two major conflicts.
The phrase “don’t say we didn’t warn you” is now frequently referenced in discussions amid rising tensions.
Analysts said Washington’s response to the plans and China’s feverish response meant it was difficult to defuse the situation unless either country was weak.
Pelosi – an outspoken supporter of Taiwan – was originally scheduled to travel to Taipei in April but pulled out at the last minute after testing positive for Covid.
Taiwan is feared to be a major flashpoint between Washington and Beijing – a possible invasion would force the US to either leave the island or face an all-out war with China.
After separating from mainland China in 1949, Taiwan insisted that it was an independent nation.
However, Beijing has always aggressively insisted that Taiwan is still rightfully its own – and has vowed to reclaim the island by 2050.