Taiwan condemns China's military exercise plans as Nancy Pelosi visit deepens tensions

ITV News Asia Correspondent Debi Edward reports on the latest ramifications of Nancy Pelosi's trip to Taiwan, as China responds with a burst of military activity in the waters around the island

Taiwanese defence officials have condemned military exercises announced by China after US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi arrived on the island.

She became the highest ranking US official to visit Taiwan in 25 years when she landed in the capital Taipei this week.

Beijing responded by announcing four days of military exercises with artillery fire in waters around Taiwan.

The exercises could delay or disrupt shipping to and from the island, which is one of the world's biggest traders.

Some of the exercises were to occur within Taiwan's 12 nautical mile sea and air territory, Taiwan's defence ministry said.

This would mark an unprecedented move that a senior defence official described as "amounting to a sea and air blockade of Taiwan".

On Wednesday, China banned some imports from Taiwan, including citrus fruit and fish, before flying an additional 27 fighter jets toward the island later that evening.

Taiwan said it scrambled jets to warn away the Chinese aircraft in its air defence zone, with 22 of them having crossed the median line separating the self-ruled island from China.

As China prepared to ramp up military activity in the region, Captain Jian-chang Yu said: “Such an act...severely violates our country’s territorial sovereignty.”

Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen added: “Facing deliberately heightened military threats, Taiwan will not back down.” 

When ask how she would deal with the growing tensions if she was elected prime minister, Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said: "Well I do not support China's inflammatory language on this issue, it is perfectly reasonable what is taking place and I urge China to de-escalate."

Captain Jian Chang Yu. Credit: AP

Ms Pelosi, meeting leaders in Taiwan, despite warnings from China, said that she and other members of Congress in a visiting delegation are showing they will not abandon their commitment to Taiwan.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has joined fellow diplomats in calling for China not to use force to disrupt the “status quo” in the Taiwan Strait.

"We call on the PRC (People's Republic of China) not to unilaterally change the status quo by force in the region, and to resolve cross-Strait differences by peaceful means," he wrote in a tweet.

China, which claims Taiwan as its territory and opposes any engagement by Taiwanese officials with foreign governments, issued a series of harsh statements after the delegation touched down Tuesday night in the Taiwanese capital Taipei.

The Communist Party says Ms Pelosi's visit may embolden Taiwan to make its decades-old de facto independence permanent - which is something Beijing says would lead to war.

ITV News Presenter Tom Bradby looks back at the historic relationship between Taiwan and China

Chinese state broadcaster CCTV said a Taiwanese citizen was detained on suspicion of inciting separatism.

Yang Chih-yuan, originally from the city of Taichung, was shown surrounded by police in a CCTV video.

Yang had been a candidate for a legislative position in New Taipei City, according to local media.

Nancy Pelosi’s trip presents a serious diplomatic headache for the Joe Biden White House. Credit: AP

President Joe Biden's administration has sought to tone down the volume on the visit from the 82-year-old US House speaker, even though China summoned the US ambassador in Beijing following the trip.

It has insisted there is no change in America’s longstanding “one-China policy,” which lies at the cornerstone of US and China relations.

Officially, the US maintains a diplomatic acknowledgement of China's position that there is only one Chinese government.

Under the policy, the US recognises and has formal ties with China rather than the island of Taiwan, which China sees as a breakaway province to be reunified with the mainland one day.

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Meeting leaders in Taiwan, Ms Pelosi said she and other members of Congress in a visiting delegation were showing they will not abandon their commitment to the self-governing island.

“America’s determination to preserve democracy, here in Taiwan and around the world, remains ironclad," Ms Pelosi said in a short speech during a meeting with Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen.

China and Taiwan have no official relations following 1949's civil war.

But the two countries do maintain several multi-billion dollar business ties - including Taiwanese computer processors being widely used in Chinese electronics.