China Closes Airspace Above Taiwan Strait As Pelosi Plane Inbound With Fighter Jet Escort

China Closes Airspace Above Taiwan Strait As Pelosi Plane Inbound With Fighter Jet Escort

Update(10:17ET)Bloomberg is reporting China has closed airspace above the Taiwan Strait to all civilian aircraft.

* * *

Update(9:58ET): Pelosi’s Air Force plane – the “most watched” aircraft in the world right now – is believed to be about 30 minutes out from landing at Taipei’s Songshan International Airport after departing Malaysia hours prior. It’s currently 9:58pm in Taiwan, with prior reports estimating a 10:20 touch down. The latest via newswires: 

  • TAIWAN AIR FORCE FIGHTERS ESCORTING PELOSI FLIGHT; TO LAND IN 30 MINS
  • CHINA CLOSES AIRSPACE ABOVE TAIWAN STRAIGHT TO ALL CIVILLIAN AIRCRAFT

As of minutes ago on FlightTracker24…

It appears the Taiwanese people are ready to greet her with precisely the kind of official fanfare that will likely provoke a severe reaction from China…

* * *

Update(8:27ET)Sources speaking to Reuters have detailed that Chinese warplanes buzzed the dividing line separating the Taiwan Strait earlier in the day as House Speaker Pelosi’s US Air Force plane is said to be en route. In what marks the clearest sign that Beijing has prepped potential ‘military options’ – a flurry of Eastern Theater Command activity is taking place in waters and airspace just outside the self-ruled island of Taiwan:

In addition to Chinese planes flying close to the median line of the strait, several Chinese warships sailed near the unofficial dividing line since Monday, the source told Reuters. The source said both Chinese warships and aircraft “squeezed” the median line on Tuesday morning, an unusual move the person described as “very provocative.”

The Chinese aircraft repeatedly conducted tactical moves of briefly “touching” the median line and circling back to the other side of the strait on Tuesday morning, while Taiwanese aircraft were on standby nearby, the person said.

There have been conflicting reports that Taiwan’s forces are on “high alert” – particularly on the outer islands, however, which the defense ministry has sought to downplay.

At the same time, social media continues to be flooded with videos appearing to show Chinese military hardware and armored convoys surging into Fujian province, which is the part of the mainland nearest Taiwan.

In follow-up, The South China Morning Post writes that this stepped up PLA activity is expected to continue:

The PLA could send warplanes across the median line that divides the Taiwan Strait if US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visits the democratic island, and analysts say it could start happening more regularly.

…A military source close to the People’s Liberation Army said it would step up its pressure campaign against Taiwan in response to a Pelosi visit and that “Beijing will give Taipei a hard time” afterwards.

But importantly, China’s defense ministry has emphasized it has never recognized the legitimacy of the “dividing line” – claiming the whole of the territorial waters as China’s.

Confirmation is now coming out that the official website of Taiwan’s presidency came under cyberattack earlier in the day.

President spokesman Xavier Chang described it as notably severe, “some 200 times worse than usual” – he said according to Bloomberg. At one point the website was inaccessible, but later came back online, he described, saying further that “government agencies will continue to strengthen monitoring to maintain the security of national information and communications, and the stable operation of key infrastructure.”

* * *

It’s after 7:00pm in Taiwan, and Reuters reports that the military aircraft likely carrying House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her delegation has departed Malaysia and could be bypassing the South China Sea, where the Chinese navy has been conducting sporadic military drills.

The plane widely believed to be Pelosi’s departed Kuala Lumpur at 3:42pm local time, with the destination listed as “N/A”. However some have noted another US Air Force C-40C had landed in Kuala Lumpur on the same day Pelosi was there, so it’s still uncertain which aircraft could be transporting the House Speaker.

Reuters further observes that “In addition to the military incursions into Taiwan’s air defense identification zone (ADIZ) on a nearly daily basis this year, two Chinese warships – a missile destroyer and guided-missile frigate – were also tracked in international waters off the coast of Lanyu Island in eastern Taiwan early Tuesday morning.” 

On Monday evening, Taiwan and US media sources said she’s expected to touch down at Taipei Songshan Airport at 10:20pm Tuesday night.

China’s foreign ministry has repeated that it’s prepared to respond to what it says is a blatant violation of its sovereignty and the One China principle with “forceful measures”. Some serious military hardware is meanwhile being maneuvered on the ground in nearby Fujian province, which sits just across from the self-ruled island.

The PLA’s Eastern Theater command appears to still be engaged in ‘live fire’ drills in a show of force.

Large military convoys have been seen traversing civilian streets in Fujian. It’s long been known that any serious Chinese military action threatening Taiwan would likely be staged from this portion of the mainland which sits most closely to Taiwan, just across the strait.

As for US Navy positioning, Reuters has separately reported

Four U.S. warships, including an aircraft carrier, were positioned in waters east of Taiwan on what the U.S. Navy called routine deployments on Tuesday amid Chinese anger over U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit the island.

 

Meanwhile, there are unconfirmed reports emerging that the website of the Taiwan presidency has been subject to a cyberattack Tuesday, just as Pelosi’s plane appears to be en route.

The Chinese foreign minister has also just issued a fresh threat, saying Pelosi is playing “with fire” – repeating President Xi’s words last Thursday in his phone call with Biden – and says she risks the US becoming an enemy of “1.4 billion Chinese people” and thus “will not meet with a good end.”

developing…

Tyler Durden
Tue, 08/02/2022 – 10:17

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