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Taiwan held widespread air raid drills on Monday as China doubled down on warnings to the U.S. against allowing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to visit the island.
Pelosi has defended her planned trip to the island, a region that China has long claimed as its sovereign territory. The Chinese foreign ministry doubled down on warnings that the trip could have “serious consequences” for the U.S.
“The Chinese side has made it clear to the U.S. on many occasions that it is firmly opposed to Speaker Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan. We are fully prepared,” foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said Monday.
“If the U.S. goes its own way, China will certainly take firm and forceful measures to safeguard its national sovereignty and territorial integrity, and the United States should be held responsible for any serious consequences,” he added.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian invites questions during the daily press conference in Beijing, Nov. 23, 2021. (AP Photo/Liu Zheng)
Meanwhile, Taiwan has stepped up precautions for potential military action from China, holding air raid drills across the country. Sirens could be heard blaring in Taipei, the nation’s capital city, signaling residents to evacuate the streets for 30 minutes.
The country also tested its missile warning system, which sends mass text messages to residents in the event of incoming attacks.
High-profile U.S. delegations have consistently visited Taiwan over the past year as tensions between the U.S. and China escalate. Six U.S. congressmen made a surprise visit to the island in April, representing the most senior-level U.S. officials to ever visit Taiwan.
The bipartisan group included Republican Sens. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Ben Sasse of Nebraska, Richard Burr of North Carolina, and Rob Portman of Ohio, Republican Texas Rep. Ronny Jackson, and Democratic New Jersey Sen. Bob Menendez.
Sens. Lindsey Graham, Bob Menendez, Richard Burr, Rob Portman and Ben Sasse, and Rep. Ronny Jackson were greeted on their arrival to Taiwan, April 14, 2022. (Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Taiwan)
China issued a similar condemnation of their trip, with the foreign ministry saying it “firmly opposes any form of official interaction between the U.S. and China’s Taiwan region.”
Sen. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., also visited the island in late April, announcing a new partnership between the U.S. National Guard and Taiwan’s defense forces.
Nevertheless, Pelosi’s position as House speaker would make her among the most senior officials to ever make a diplomatic visit to the island. No House speaker has visited Taiwan since Newt Gingrich in 1997.