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China warns it will 'resolutely safeguard national sovereignty' as tensions rise over Taiwan

·2-min read

China has warned it will "resolutely safeguard national sovereignty and territorial integrity" as tensions rise over Taiwan, amid rumours of a US visit to the self-ruled island. 

Air force spokesman Shen Jinke was quoted by state media as saying at a military airshow that the air force has many types of fighter jets capable of circling "the precious island of our motherland".

It comes as US House of Representatives speaker Nancy Pelosi confirmed she will visit four Asian countries this week, but made no mention of a possible stop in Taiwan.

She would be the highest-ranking US politician to visit the island, which China claims as part of its People's Republic, since 1997.

Rumours of the visit have riled Beijing, which claims the island as its own territory. China sees contact between American officials and Taiwan as an encouragement to make its decades-old de facto independence permanent.

In a tense phone call on Thursday, Chinese President Xi Jinping warned his US counterpart Joe Biden that Washington should abide by the one-China principle and "those who play with fire will perish by it".

Shen said on Sunday: "The air force has the firm will, full confidence and sufficient capability to defend national sovereignty and territorial integrity."

Beijing has issued escalating warnings about repercussions should Ms Pelosi - a leading Democrat like Mr Biden - visit Taiwan, which says it is facing increasing Chinese military and economic threats.

White House national security spokesperson John Kirby said on Friday the United States has seen no evidence of looming Chinese military activity against Taiwan.

Pelosi confirmed she will visit Singapore, Malaysia, South Korea and Japan to discuss trade, the COVID-19 pandemic, climate change, security and democratic governance.

Read more:
Nancy Pelosi's badly timed Taiwan visit may have the US and China quietly walking into a crisis
China warns US not to 'play with fire' over Taiwan during two-hour call between Xi and Biden

Biden discouraged Pelosi visit

Mr Biden's team is also thought to have discouraged Ms Pelosi from going.

Last week he told reporters that "the military thinks it's not a good idea".

Beijing has not ruled out military action if the speaker does make her visit. It also consistently threatens a forced annexation of the island.

Over her decades-long Congressional career, Ms Pelosi has repeatedly criticised China for its human rights record, among other things.