CHINA has vowed to “fight to the death” as warships, tanks and fighter planes have been deployed amid fears war could explode over Taiwan.
Beijing is furious and has threatened to take action as it accuses the US of provoking them over the breakaway island, which the Communist Party has long claimed belongs to China.
The resolve on both sides is now being stretched to breaking point as one of the most senior politicians in the US, Nancy Pelosi, has touched down on in Taiwan.
She is second-in-line to the presidency, behind only Vice President Kamala Harris, and is a vocal critic of China and a longstanding enemy of Donald Trump.
Pelosi, 82, is the highest level US figure to visit the island for 25 years and the trip is a significant show of support – something which will infuriate China.
She was pictured getting off the plane at Sungshan Airport wearing a pink suit, which matches the colour of Taiwan’s national flower the plum blossom.
“America’s solidarity with the 23 million people of Taiwan is more important today than ever, as the world faces a choice between autocracy and democracy,” she wrote on Twitter.
Tensions continue to loom over the region, despite China so-far failing to act on threats of “serious consequences” over the trip.
The Communists raged Pelosi’s visit was a “serious violation” of their sovereignty and vowed to take “all necessary measures”.
“These moves, like playing with fire, are extremely dangerous. Those who play with fire will perish by it,” said the China’s foreign ministry.
Beijing claims the island belongs to them, but the people of Taiwan say they are a separate nation.
China has long been feared to launch a D-Day style amphibious assault on Taiwan – something which some analysts have dubbed Z-Day.
At least two Chinese warships – a destroyer and a frigate – have been seen lurking off the island and Chinese warplanes have buzzed close to the dividing line in the Taiwan Strait.
And chilling footage shared on Chinese social network Weibo appears to show a column of amphibious tanks reportedly massing on beaches in Fujian along the Taiwan Strait.
Other footage shows a large amount of military equipment on the move in the province, including tanks on trains and columns of vehicles gridlocking Xiamen.
The closest point between China and Taiwan is the Kinmen Islands – which are around six miles east of Xiamen.
It is also reported China is preparing to send its aircraft carriers to match US deployments in the region, with USS Ronald Reagan and her strike group currently operating near Taiwan.
Chinese state media reports both 66,000 ton carriers Liaoning and Shandong are now at sea.
‘PAY THE PRICE’
Communist leader Xi Jinping has vowed to “unify” Taiwan – which enjoys strong support from the US, even though the White House has stopped short of backing their “independence”.
It has always been unclear if Washington would intervene militarily should China attack Taiwan, despite a recent vow from US President Joe Biden.
Even the prospect of a visit has sparked a crisis which could spiral into a war, with China warning their military will “not sit idle” and threatening “serious consequences”.
China views any engagement between Washington and Taiwan’s capital Taipei as a US endorsement of the island’s independence.
“The US side will bear the responsibility and pay the price for undermining China’s sovereign security interests,” foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said at a press briefing in Beijing.
Both China and Taiwan have been holding war games in the days ahead of the Pelosi’s trip.
Her plane has reportedly now taken off from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia – and is possibly bound for Taiwan.
The world waits with bated breath to see if she lands in Taipei in the next four hours – and what the response will be from China.
Chinese propaganda released yesterday showed off their military as soldiers in the clips vowed to fight to the death.
“We are fully prepared for any eventuality. Fight upon order, bury every intruder, and move toward joint and successful operations,” the troops said, reports Chinese state media tabloid The Global Times.
“We are PLA soldiers, we swear to defend the motherland to the death.”
The newspaper – which has a circulation of more than two million – is often seen as the unfiltered mouthpiece of the Communist Party.
“Based on what I know, in response to Pelosi’s possible visit to Taiwan, Beijing has formulated a series of countermeasures, including military actions,” said the paper’s lead columnist and former editor Hu Xijin.
He warned: “Let [Pelosi] go to Taiwan. But pray before departure: wish herself a safe journey and wish herself not be defined by history as a sinner who starts a spiral of escalation process expanding military frictions to a large-scale war in the Taiwan Strait.”
The paper also quoted a “Chinese military aviation expert” who warned Beijing’s fighter jets could fire warning shots at Pelosi’s plane as it approaches Taiwan.
Fu Qianshao siad: “If Pelosi’s aircraft enters our exercise area, we would have to take measures to eject, intercept, escort, and send a radio warning.
“If Pelosi gets her way, our warplanes may fire shells diagonally ahead of Pelosi’s plane as a further warning.”
And it quotes “Taiwan Strait expert” Chiu Yi who said Pelosi is “hiding like a rat” – claiming the politician would likely enter Taiwan from the east to avoid the massed Chinese military in the West.
US officials have already expressed concerns regarding the Pelosi’s safety on the visit, which has not been expressly endorsed by the White House or President Joe Biden.
And in an ominous phone call on Thursday, Biden was warned by President Xi Jinping: “Those who play with fire will perish by it.”
It makes China’s public admissions that they will take “strong measures” even more alarming for the House Speaker.
China’s PLA Eastern Theater Command released a dramatic video showcasing their military abilities in what appears to be another warning.
The caption of the concerning clip read: “Stand ready and fight, bury any enemy that comes.”
And the country has reportedly sounded their chilling “war signal” in official circles – which was issued before their last two major conflicts.
The phrase, “Don’t say we didn’t warn you”, has now been frequently referred to in discussions amid the soaring tensions.
Analysts said Washington’s response to the plans and China’s feverish reaction meant it was hard to de-escalate the situation without either country appearing weak.
Pelosi – an outspoken supporter of Taiwan – was originally scheduled to travel to Taipei in April but pulled out at the last minute after testing positive for Covid.
Taiwan is feared to be a major flashpoint between the Washington and Beijing – with a potentially invasion potentially forcing the US to either abandon the island or face full scale war with China.
Chinese nationalists fled to Taiwan after the Communists won the civil war on the mainland in 1949 – and the island has remained independent ever since.
However, Beijing has always aggressively insisted that Taiwan belongs to them by right – and have pledged to “unify” with the island by 2050.