The Chinese military posted a video of its troops launching missiles, grabbing weapons, and taking off in fighter jets ahead of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan.
“If Pelosi insists on visiting Taiwan, China will take resolute and strong measures to defend its sovereignty and territorial integrity,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian told reporters Monday, according to the New York Post.
The rhetoric comes after sources confirmed to the Wall Street Journal that Pelosi would be visiting Taiwan as part of her trip to Asia this week, which would make the House Speaker the highest ranking American official to visit the independently governed Island since then-House Speaker Newt Gingrich in 1997.
Word of Pelosi’s trip did not sit well with China, which views Taiwan as part of its territory and any trip by a high-ranking American official as confirmation of U.S. support for the Island’s independence.
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“Those who play with fire will perish by it,” Zhao said. “We would like to once again admonish the US that we are fully prepared for any eventuality and the PLA will never sit idly by.”
The Chinese military’s Eastern Theater Command posted the video to state media sites Monday, showing military exercises that included aircraft carriers, fighter jets flying in formation, paratroopers making combat jumps, and soldiers emerging from wooded areas and the ocean.
“We are fully prepared for any eventuality. Fight upon order, bury every intruder, and move toward joint and successful operations! We are PLA soldiers, we swear to defend the motherland to the death,” soldiers say in the video, according to the New York Post.
Taiwan put its military on heightened alert in response to Chinese rhetoric Monday, while White House national security spokesman John Kirby downplayed the significance of the threats.
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“We shouldn’t be, as a country, we shouldn’t be intimidated by that rhetoric or those potential actions. This is an important trip for the speaker to be on and we’re going to do whatever we can to support her,” Kirby told reporters.
Meanwhile, Taiwanese Premier Su Tseng-chang celebrated the potential arrival of Pelosi without confirming the House Speaker’s trip.
“We always warmly welcome visits to our country by distinguished foreign guests,” he said.