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China surrounds Taiwan with planes, ships in wake of Pelosi visit

China’s People’s Liberation Army on Wednesday dramatically ramped up military drills in the air and sea around Taiwan in protest of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-CA) visit to the island, a series of moves that a new organ of the Chinese government called “rehearsals” for the eventual reunification of China and Taiwan.

The Global Times, which is run by China’s government, announced that J-20 stealth fighter jets would circle the island and that air and sea exercises would be held in the north, southwest and southeast of Taiwan. Conventional missile test launches will take place to the east of Taiwan, the Times reported.

“This means the island of Taiwan will be surrounded by PLA drills in five directions,” the Times reported.

“The drills, likely to be larger in scale than the one in the 1996 crisis, serve not only as warnings to the US and ‘Taiwan independence’ secessionists but also as rehearsals for the PLA to reunify the island by force, experts said,” the Times wrote.

China offered up details plans that make it clear that officials there are moving up the timetable for being prepared to move on Taiwan. China’s navy will be heavily involved in the exercises, raising questions about what countermoves the U.S. Navy might deploy.

“It is also possible that the missiles will be launched from the PLA Navy vessels that are sailing to the east of the island, said military experts, noting that the move will target the external forces that try to intervene in the reunification process from the east,” the paper said.

Pelosi’s visit took place after extensive back-and-forth in the U.S., where the Biden administration reportedly urged Pelosi not to visit the island. Many Republicans took Pelosi’s side – Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said she has every right to visit.

The visit has clearly agitated China. On Wednesday morning, nearly every story on the front page of the Global Times was about Pelosi’s visit.

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