China warns of ‘forceful response’ as Taiwan tensions skyrocket ahead of Nancy Pelosi trip

Joe Biden slammed for 'dithering' over Taiwan

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Ms Pelosi, the Speaker of the United States House of Representatives, is rumoured to be planning a visit to the self-governing island. But China has warned of “consequences” for the US if they proceed with the visit. Zhao Lijian, China’s foreign ministry spokesman, said: “If the US insists on going its own way and challenging China’s bottom line, it will surely be met with forceful responses.

“All ensuing consequences shall be borne by the US.”

President Joe Biden is planning to have a telephone call with Chinese President Xi Jinping, amid mounting speculation that China could resort to military force to prevent Ms Pelosi’s visit.

It is thought China could attempt to physically block the arrival of her aircraft or stage missiles or other aggressive defence exercises that would prevent it from landing.

Just last week, Mr Biden said the Pentagon thought her trip was “not a good idea right now”.

This comes amid growing tensions between China and Taiwan, which is seen by Beijing as a breakaway province.

Chinese President Xi Jinping has historically called for a “reunification” between the two countries, which he said “must be fulfiled”.

He has not ruled out the possibility of using force to achieve this, with the country taking an increasingly aggressive stance towards Taiwan.

The past year has seen a record number of incursions sent into Taiwan’s air defence zone by Chinese warplanes.

The US has historically been ambiguous about whether or not it would formally intervene if China attacked Taiwan.

But in October last year, US President Joe Biden was asked whether he could “vow to protect Taiwan”.

In response, Mr Biden said: “yes and yes”.

Mr Biden’s upcoming call with Mr Xi will be their fifth telephone conversation.

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Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby said the call will involve discussions of “everything from the tensions over Taiwan to the war in Ukraine, as well as how we better manage competition between our two nations, certainly in the economic sphere.”

He added: “This is a call that has been scheduled for a long time and there’s already a pretty robust agenda of things for these two leaders to talk about.”

Zhu Feng, dean of the Institute of International Studies at Nanjing University in China, accused Ms Pelosi of “playing with fire”.

He said: “This is the issue that irks China the most.

“On the call both sides need to give each other a positive signal that says we can have basic trust in each other, which is especially needed as the world remains fragile and volatile.

“Not condoning Pelosi’s Taiwan visit is a prerequisite to building this trust.”

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