China Thursday fired several missiles near Taiwan after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi left the island, ending her contentious visit amid Chinese threats. Taiwan’s Defense Ministry confirmed that the missiles landed in the East China Sea near Taiwan’s eastern coast, violating the country’s airspace.
"The entire live-fire training mission has been successfully completed and the relevant air and sea area control is now lifted," said the Chinese Eastern Theatre Military Command in a statement, according to CNN.
The move by China is being seen by some as military posturing, an attempt by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) to save face after lobbing stark warnings at the United States and Taiwan.
“Those who play with fire will not come to a good end and those who offend China will be punished,” Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi threatened Wednesday.
“When the House speaker, being the third-highest ranking figure in the US government, flies on a US military plane to make a provocative visit to the Taiwan region, it is certainly not unofficial behavior,” Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Hua Chunying said at a briefing in Beijing Tuesday, adding that any countermeasures from Beijing would be “justified” in response to such “unscrupulous behavior”.
On Monday, Chinese warplanes moved close to the median line dividing the Taiwan Strait as Pelosi landed in Taiwan, reported America’s Frontline News.
Reports also showed troop movements in China’s Fuijan province closest to Taiwan with military units amassing on the Xiamen Beaches. HQ-22 AA anti-aircraft missile systems were spotted in the Zhejiang province just north of Taipei and at least five Y-20A were seen flying over Chengdu in the Sichuan province in the direction of Taiwan.
For her part Pelosi used the opportunity to accuse China of misogyny, claiming she is only a target of Chinese threats because she is a woman.
“They made a fuss because I’m Speaker, I guess – I don’t know if that was a reason or an excuse,” said Pelosi in Taiwan, fully masked. “Because they didn’t say anything when the men came,” she added, likely referring to former Defense Secretary Mark Esper and former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who visited Taiwan in March.
However, Pelosi, who is second in the line of succession to the presidency, is the most senior official to visit the island in 25 years.
After the Chinese Communist Party seized control of mainland China in 1949, the opposing Kuomintang Party, which was democracy-leaning, fled to Taiwan. China has always militantly maintained that Taiwan is Chinese territory as part of its “One China” policy, while Taiwan, officially known as the “Republic of China,” has demanded independence from the communist superpower.
The CCP views visits to Taiwan by American officials as support for the democratic, self-governing country.
National Security Council spokesman John Kirby stated Monday, “We have said that we do not support Taiwan independence, and we have said that we expect cross-straight differences to be resolved by peaceful means.”