CHINA has deployed its two aircraft carriers as tensions rage in Taiwan over the planned visit by US politician Nancy Pelosi.
Beijing has put both the vessels – Shandong and Liaoning – to sea in an unprecedented show of strength amid fears of invasion.
Pelosi is now understood to just be hours away from landing in Taiwan’s capital of Taipei.
Flight radar shows her plane – SPAR19 – left Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, before heading east and then turning north towards Taiwan.
It is understood the US military aircraft is taking a wide flight path to avoid flying over the heavily militarised South China Sea.
Both the US and China have heavy military presence in the region, with Beijing massing warships, warplanes and tanks near the Taiwan Strait in Xiamen and Fujian.
Shandong and Liaoning are both around 60,000 tons as they are capable of carrying dozens of warplanes and helicopters.
The two carriers are the lynchpin around which China is building its navy – and are seen as a symbol of national pride to Beijing.
China does have a third carrier – Fujian – but it is still under construction.
State media released footage of the warships heading to sea, with Liaoning leaving Qingdao and Shandong heading out of Sanya.
Both ships are at sea as fears of war loom over the region ahead of Pelosi’s expected visit to Taiwan.
The US Speaker of the House is the second-in-line to the presidency, behind only Vice President Kamala Harris.
And should the trip go ahead she will be the most senior US politician to visit the island – something which will infuriate China.
American aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan and her strike group are also currently operating near Taiwan.
Beijing claims the island belongs to them, but the people of Taiwan say they are a separate nation.
The world waits with bated breath to see if she lands in Taipei in the next few hours – and what the response will be from China.
China views any engagement between Washington and Taiwan’s capital Taipei as a US endorsement of the island’s independence.
Both China and Taiwan have in the last few days holding war games.
OUT OF CONTROL
Communist leader Xi Jinping has vowed to “unify” Taiwan – which enjoys strong support from the US, even though the White House has stopped short of backing their “independence”.
Chinese state media has suggested warplanes and warships could be used to “escort, intercept and drive away” Pelosi’s plane if she attempted to land on Taiwan.
Such an action could cause an extraordinary international crisis – which could easily spiral out of control.
China has warned their military will “not sit idle” and threatening “serious consequences”.
It has always been unclear if Washington would intervene militarily should China attack Taiwan, despite a recent vow from US President Joe Biden.
“The US side will bear the responsibility and pay the price for undermining China’s sovereign security interests,” foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said at a press briefing in Beijing.
Chinese propaganda released yesterday showed off their military as soldiers in the clips vowed to fight to the death.
“We are fully prepared for any eventuality. Fight upon order, bury every intruder, and move toward joint and successful operations,” the troops said, reports Chinese state media tabloid The Global Times.
“We are PLA soldiers, we swear to defend the motherland to the death.”
The newspaper – which has a circulation of more than two million – is often seen as the unfiltered mouthpiece of the Communist Party.
“Based on what I know, in response to Pelosi’s possible visit to Taiwan, Beijing has formulated a series of countermeasures, including military actions,” said the paper’s lead columnist and former editor Hu Xijin.
He warned: “Let [Pelosi] go to Taiwan. But pray before departure: wish herself a safe journey and wish herself not be defined by history as a sinner who starts a spiral of escalation process expanding military frictions to a large-scale war in the Taiwan Strait.”
The paper also quoted a “Chinese military aviation expert” who warned Beijing’s fighter jets could fire warning shots at Pelosi’s plane as it approaches Taiwan.
Fu Qianshao siad: “If Pelosi’s aircraft enters our exercise area, we would have to take measures to eject, intercept, escort, and send a radio warning.
“If Pelosi gets her way, our warplanes may fire shells diagonally ahead of Pelosi’s plane as a further warning.”
And it quotes “Taiwan Strait expert” Chiu Yi who said Pelosi is “hiding like a rat” – claiming the politician would likely enter Taiwan from the east to avoid the massed Chinese military in the West.
US officials have already expressed concerns regarding the Pelosi’s safety on the visit, which has not been expressly endorsed by the White House or President Joe Biden.
And in an ominous phone call on Thursday, Biden was warned by President Xi Jinping: “Those who play with fire will perish by it.”
It makes China’s public admissions that they will take “strong measures” even more alarming for the House Speaker.
China’s PLA Eastern Theater Command released a dramatic video showcasing their military abilities in what appears to be another warning.
The caption of the concerning clip read: “Stand ready and fight, bury any enemy that comes.”
And the country has reportedly sounded their chilling “war signal” in official circles – which was issued before their last two major conflicts.
The phrase, “Don’t say we didn’t warn you”, has now been frequently referred to in discussions amid the soaring tensions.
Analysts said Washington’s response to the plans and China’s feverish reaction meant it was hard to de-escalate the situation without either country appearing weak.
Pelosi – an outspoken supporter of Taiwan – was originally scheduled to travel to Taipei in April but pulled out at the last minute after testing positive for Covid.
Taiwan is feared to be a major flashpoint between the Washington and Beijing – with a potentially invasion potentially forcing the US to either abandon the island or face full scale war with China.
Chinese nationalists fled to Taiwan after the Communists won the civil war on the mainland in 1949 – and the island has remained independent ever since.
However, Beijing has always aggressively insisted that Taiwan belongs to them by right – and have pledged to reclaim the island by 2050.
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