Taiwan has reportedly intercepted nine Chinese military aircraft and four naval vessels around the island nation between late Sunday and early Monday, amid growing military threats from Beijing.
In response, Taiwan sent aircraft, naval ships, and used land-based missiles to monitor the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) aircraft and vessels’ activities, according to the Ministry of National Defense (MND).
So far this month, Beijing has sent 315 military aircraft and 78 naval ships around Taiwan. However, in only a few instances has the PLA aircraft crossed the Taiwan Strait median line. This time, the aircraft did not cross the median line.
As tensions mount between Taiwan and China, the U.S. Defence Department has started preparing for House of Representatives Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s visit to Taiwan later this year, Zawya reported Monday, citing Punchbowl News. The planning for the trip is reportedly in “early stages.”
The news of McCarthy’s possible Taiwan visit comes as the House Republicans made countering Beijing a priority. Earlier, McCarthy, who represents a California district north of Los Angeles, had expressed his interest in visiting Taiwan if he were elected speaker. His comments had come before then-speaker Nancy Pelosi‘s controversial visit to the self-ruled island in August last year.
Taiwan has been under constant threat from China, which claims the island nation as part of its territory, and plans to take control of it. Tensions between the two nations have deepened, with Beijing ramping up military, diplomatic and economic pressure on the democratic island.
Meanwhile, Pelosi’s sudden Taiwan visit in August last year further strained the ties. Beijing responded with a near-complete blockade of Taiwan, followed by live-fire military drills around the island.
Analysts from the Eurasia Group — a New York-based political risk consultancy — said the Punchbowl report suggested the White House was looking to “get ahead of the issue,” and prevent the confusion that happened at the time of Pelosi’s visit, the South China Morning Post reported. They also predicted China’s response could be “somewhat less severe” than its response to Pelosi’s visit.
“Beijing’s response may also be influenced by [its] understanding that McCarthy, as the leader of the opposition party, is not an emissary of the White House,” they added.
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