Taiwan’s defense ministry denied China’s claim Tuesday that Beijing’s Su-35 fighter jets crossed the sensitive Taiwan Strait ahead of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s arrival in the island nation — as the Communist power announced a series of military drills and other actions in response to the California Democrat’s trip.
Chinese state media had reported that two Su-35 jets had traversed the strait, which separates the self-governing island from mainland China, just moments before Pelosi and five other Democratic members of Congress touched down in Taipei around 10:45 p.m. local time.
“In response to rumors online that PLA [People’s Liberation Army] Su-35 fighter jets had crossed Taiwan Strait, that is fake news. Please follow the correct message from our official website,” Taiwan’s National Defense Ministry tweeted.
“Meanwhile, we urge netizens to not spread it and strongly condemn this malicious act.”
The ministry confirmed in a follow-up tweet that 21 Chinese aircraft had entered the southwestern portion of Taiwan’s Air Defense Identification Zone before turning back.
Earlier, Taipei’s defense ministry said in a statement that it had a full grasp of all activities near Taiwan and would dispatch forces in reaction to “enemy threats” as appropriate.
Meanwhile, China said its military had been put on high alert and would launch “targeted military operations” in response to Pelosi’s arrival.
The People’s Liberation Army said the maneuvers would take place starting Tuesday night in the waters and skies near Taiwan and include the firing of long-range ammunition in the Taiwan Strait.
“This action is a solemn deterrent against the recent major escalation of the negative actions of the United States on the Taiwan issue, and a serious warning to the ‘Taiwan independence’ forces seeking ‘independence.’”
China’s official Xinhua News said the army planned to conduct live-fire drills from Aug. 4 to 7 across multiple locations. In an image the news agency released, the drills were to take place in six different areas in the waters surrounding Taiwan.
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said Washington’s betrayal “on the Taiwan issue is bankrupting its national credibility.”
“Any countermeasure to be taken by China would be a justified and necessary response to the US oblivion to China’s repeated démarches and the US’s unscrupulous behavior.”
“The US and Taiwan have made provocations together first, whereas China has been compelled to act in self-defense,” a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson tweeted.
Beijing has repeatedly warned against Pelosi going to the island nation, which it claims as its own, while US National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby said Monday the US would not be intimidated by Chinese “saber-rattling.”
With Post wires