China on Saturday conducted live-fire military exercises in the Taiwan Strait amid soaring tensions over a potential visit to Taiwan by US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA).
Chinese authorities said the live-fire drills were carried out off the waters of Pingtain Island in the Fujian province. Pingtan is about 75 miles from the coast of Taiwan and about 115 miles from its capital Taipei.
Also on Saturday, China’s state broadcaster released rare footage of Chinese forces conducting live-fire drills in the South China Sea. The US aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan is currently operating in the South China Sea after departing Singapore.
According to The South China Morning Post, China announced it would be holding the drills in the Taiwan Strait on Thursday ahead of a phone call between Chinese President Xi Jinping and President Biden.
During the two-hour call, the two leaders traded warnings about Taiwan, and Xi told Biden that the US shouldn’t “play with fire” on the issue. Chinese officials have warned of a strong response if Pelosi visits the island.
At this point, it’s not clear if Pelosi will be visiting Taiwan. The house speaker announced Sunday that she is leading a congressional delegation to the Asia Pacific but didn’t say whether or not they would stop in Taiwan.
Congressional delegations to Taiwan have become more common in recent years as Washington is increasing ties with Taipei as part of its strategy against Beijing. In early July, Senator Rick Scott (R-FL) visited the island, and China responded by flying warplanes over the median line that separates the Taiwan Strait.