Conditions in Taiwan are becoming increasingly tense as the island nation’s military chased away a Chinese military drone and the Chinese state media is openly threatening House Speaker Nancy Pelosi if she travels to Taiwan as reported.
The Taiwanese Defense Ministry reported on Thursday that it fired warning shots at a Chinese drone near Dongyin, a fortified and strategically important island it has long claimed authority over. It said that the drone appeared to be probing Taiwan’s air defenses of the island as it “glanced by” the island that lies near the Chinese mainland.
The island commands a key position at one end of the Taiwan Strait. Any Chinese invasion force attacking Taiwan would have to have use of the strait.
A senior Taiwanese official said that forces on the island fired flares at the drone as a warning before it was conclusively identified. It was later confirmed that the drone was a new model deployed by the Chinese military.
The event marked the second time a Chinese drone was chased away from Taiwanese airspace.
This week’s event occured as the entire island of Taiwan is engaging in “invasion preparedness drills.” Those exercises are conducted each year and involve civilian responses in conjunction with military defenses.
Meanwhile, Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s reported plan for visiting Taiwan is provoking extremely aggressive commentary by Chinese media figures.
Hu Xijin, former chief editor of the Global Times, which is operated by the Chinese Communist Party, suggested that China should shoot down Pelosi’s aircraft if it refuses to divert course away from Taiwan. He described the planned trip as an “invasion” of China if Pelosi is escorted by U.S. fighter jets.
The Chinese government has warned that it will take “forceful measures” if Pelosi in fact visits the island nation still claimed by China as its territory.
Hu added that if warning shots or obstruction tactics do not deter American jets, then the military should “shoot them down.”
Pentagon spokesman Lt. Col. Martin Meiners told reporters that it would be inappropriate “to comment on any congressional travel possibilities.”
Sources have reported that Pelosi’s delegation is also expected to visit Japan, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore while also stopping to visit the U.S. Indo-Pacific command at Hawaii.