China’s military will start exercises around Taiwan in response to US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to the self-governed island and launch a series of “targeted military operations to counteract the situation,” according to statements released by its Eastern Theater Command and Ministry of Defense Tuesday.
An announcement from the People's Liberation Army Eastern Theater Command said beginning Tuesday night a series of exercises would be held on the sea and in the air surrounding Taiwan, the self-governed island that China says is its sovereign territory.
"This action is a solemn deterrent against the recent major escalation of the negative actions of the United States on the Taiwan issue, and a serious warning to the 'Taiwan independence' forces seeking 'independence,'" Col. Shi Yi, spokesman for the Eastern Theater Command, said in a statement.
The Eastern Theater is one of the five joint commands of the People's Liberation Army with jurisdiction over China’s eastern coastal provinces of Fujian and Zhejiang, which sit opposite and above Taiwan.
In a separate statement, China’s Ministry of Defense confirmed that the Chinese army is on “high alert” and will “launch a series of targeted military operations” intended to “defend national sovereignty and territorial integrity.”
“China has repeatedly clarified the serious consequences of the visit to Taiwan, but Pelosi knowingly and maliciously provoked and created a crisis. The Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) is on high alert and will launch a series of targeted military operations to counteract the situation, resolutely defend national sovereignty and territorial integrity, and resolutely thwart the interference of external forces and 'Taiwan independence' secessionist schemes,” Ministry of Defense spokesperson Wu Qian said.
In an unusual move, Chinese state media posted on Twitter a map showing six areas around Taiwan where it said the PLA would conduct drills, including live-fire exercises from Thursday through Sunday.
Some context: The Chinese military has been releasing videos and posting messages vowing to safeguard its “national sovereignty and territorial integrity” since the news of a possible Pelosi visit to Taiwan broke last month.
Prior to Pelosi’s visit US officials said they were ready for China to continue to conduct potentially aggressive air or at-sea interactions with the US or allies in the region if the visit went forward, but did not expect direct hostile action from Beijing.
A security plan involving ships and aircraft was developed by the Pentagon to ensure Pelosi was kept safe while visiting Taiwan, several defense officials familiar with the matter told CNN last week.