According to the Flightradar website, a U.S. Air Force Boeing C-40C numbered 09-0540 took off from Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland and headed for the Pacific Ocean.
Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the US Congress House of Representatives, is believed to be on board with plans to tour Southeast Asian countries. The politician plans to visit Japan, Singapore, Malaysia and South Korea. As part of the trip, Pelosi also plans to fly to Taiwan, but visiting the island is still in doubt.
“A source reviewing the itinerary on Thursday afternoon said the possibility of visiting Taiwan was listed as ‘uncertain,'” NBC said in a statement.
About 100,000 people watched the flight of the Boeing C-40С in real time. It then landed at Honolulu Airport in Hawaii.
Pelosi, who holds the third highest position in the US government hierarchy, plans to visit Taiwan in August, the Financial Times and Politico newspapers reported. This may be the first visit by a politician of this rank to the island in 25 years. Pelosi was due to go to Taiwan in April, but was unable to go there because she contracted the coronavirus.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said that if Pelosi visits Taiwan, Beijing will take decisive and drastic measures. The Ministry of Defense of the People’s Republic of China stressed “the military won’t be watching this quietly”. According to the Financial Times, China has also specifically warned of a possible military response, including interception of the speaker’s plane as it approaches the island.
On July 27, CNN reported that Pelosi had received a warning from the US presidential administration about her trip to Taiwan. Officials noted that the PRC leadership could use the trip for its own political purposes. Wu Xinbo, director of the Fudan University Center for American Studies, suggested that the extreme negative reaction of the Chinese authorities will force the politician to abandon the trip under pressure from Joe Biden, who does not want to confront China.
The White House commented on Pelosi’s possible visit to Taiwan, saying the speaker had the right to decide for himself whether or not to go there.
“I didn’t see any solution. We didn’t see any explanation. The decision is entirely up to the speaker,” said John Kirby, strategic communications coordinator for the National Security Council.
According to her, the task of the defense-politics agency is to provide Pelosi with all the information and analytics necessary to make the best decision.
According to NBC, the Speaker of the House of Representatives has invited Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Gregory Meeks, who heads a congressional delegation to Taiwan in 2021, and Democrat Veterans Affairs Committee Chairman Mark Takano, to travel with him. The channel also received invitations from MPs Michael McCall and Anna Eshu, but they said they could not go.
“He who plays with fire will burn”
On July 28, US President Joe Biden had the first phone call in four months with Chinese President Xi Jinping. Politicians discussed Pelosi’s possible visit to Taiwan and the escalation of tensions in the region.
The Chinese leader warned Biden of the consequences of meddling in Taiwan, noting that “anyone who plays with fire will burn”. In response, the US has confirmed that its “one China” policy has not changed.
Bloomberg noted that Biden expressed doubts about Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan. According to him, the US military considers that “not a good idea right now”. Taiwan representatives also condemned Biden’s words.
“Biden’s comments do not please us. “We feel uncomfortable,” said Johnny Chang, Co-Chair of Taiwan’s Foreign and Defense Committee. “His comments imply, firstly, that there is a real military danger, and secondly, that relations between Taiwan and the United States are dictated by Beijing, as if the US-Taiwan relations were conditional.”
Reuters writes that a visit to Taiwan would be a dramatic, if not unprecedented, display of US support. The agency emphasizes that relations between the two countries are increasingly overshadowed by tensions around the island.
At the same time, former US President Donald Trump said that a possible visit by Pelosi to Taiwan would increase the contradictions with China.
“He’s only going to make things worse,” Trump said. According to him, the purpose of such a trip is to “make trouble and make money”.
Despite the statements about adherence to the “One China” principle, the United States openly supports the Taiwan authorities. In mid-July, the US State Department approved a $108 million arms shipment to Taiwan, prompting a backlash from Beijing demanding the cancellation of the deal.
China begins military exercises
Recently, Beijing has increased the intensity of its exercises in coastal waters in the south of the country. On July 30, the Chinese People’s Liberation Army began Military exercises in the Taiwan Strait Off Pingtan Island in Fujian Province. Fujian is the closest region to Taiwan in mainland China. All ships are prohibited from entering the designated area.
These are not the only exercises that China is conducting at sea these days. Since July 29, the Chinese military has been conducting exercises in the western part of the Qiongzhou Strait, which separates the southern Guangdong province from Hainan Island, and also in the water area southeast of Dawanshan Island, south of the Guangdong coast. Region.
Beijing also plans to conduct target practice on August 2 and 3 west of the Leizhou Peninsula in the South China Sea. China noted that the maneuvers were carried out on the eve of the celebration of the 95th anniversary of the country’s armed forces.