China announced Saturday it could conduct military exercises off the coast opposite Taiwan amid rising concern that Beijing may invade the self-governing island earlier than expected, per the Associated Press.
Driving the news headlines: The announcement comes as Speaker of the home Nancy Pelosi is poised to go to Taiwan. Chinese President Xi Jinping earlier this week warned President Biden never to “play with fire” on the democratic island.
- The Communist Partys military wing, the Peoples Liberation Army, conducted live-fire exercises off Pingtan Island, the Associated Press reports.
- It’s unclear if the exercises include missiles, fighter planes or weapons, per AP.
The picture as a whole: The Chinese government has consistently vowed to manage Taiwan, potentially by force, Axios reports. The PLA has previously flown fighter planes and bombers beyond Taiwan.
- The strain over Pelosi’s impending visit has stoked fears that Taiwan can be a military flashpoint soon.
State of play: Pelosi’s delegation was slated to depart for Asia on Friday and planned to go to Japan, South Korea, Malaysia and Singapore, CNBC reports. An end in Taiwan was viewed as “tentative.”
- Beijing threatened “serious consequences” if Pelosi visits the island, arguing that Taiwan doesn’t have the proper to conduct foreign relations, Axios’ Bethany Allen-Ebrahimian and Dave Lawler report.
- President Biden said publicly this month that the U.S. military thinks the potential trip is “wii idea at this time.“