Chinese aircraft circled the Taiwan Strait line on Tuesday, just hours before US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi is set to arrive in Taipei for a visit that has heightened tensions between Washington and Beijing.

The Chinese government has frequently cautioned Pelosi, a long-time Beijing critic, against visiting self-ruled Taiwan, which China claims as its own.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi stated on Tuesday that US lawmakers who “play with fire” on the Taiwan issue would “come to no good end”

The United States declared on Monday that it will not be frightened by Chinese “sabre rattling”

According to a source familiar with Pelosi’s agenda, the majority of her planned meetings, including one with President Tsai Ing-wen, were slated for Wednesday.

Other four sources said, she was planned to meet with a group of activists who are vocal against China’s human rights record on Wednesday afternoon.

Taiwan’s foreign ministry said it had no comment on Pelosi’s vacation plans, and her office has been mute as well.

Taiwan’s tallest structure, Taipei 101, lighted up with inscriptions such as “Welcome to Taiwan” “Speaker Pelosi” and “Taiwan (heart) USA” on Tuesday night.

Several Chinese airplanes flew close to the median line separating the Taiwan Strait on Tuesday morning, according to Reuters.

According to the source, many Chinese vessels have also passed close the unofficial dividing line since Monday.

Both Chinese warships and planes “squeezed” the middle line, an unprecedented maneuver characterized as “very provocative.”

The Chinese aircraft kept “touching” the middle line before circling back to the opposite side of the strait, the witness added, as Taiwanese planes stood by close.

According to them, the Chinese aircraft departed the region in the afternoon, but the ships stayed.

Normally, neither side’s aircraft crosses the median line.

Meanwhile, four US warships, including an aircraft carrier, were positioned in seas east of Taiwan on normal deployments, according to the US Navy.

According to Reuters, the USS Ronald Reagan has transited the South China Sea and is now in the Philippines Sea, east of Taiwan and the Philippines and south of Japan.

It was accompanied by a guided missile cruiser, the USS Antietam, and a destroyer, the USS Higgins. The USS Tripoli, an amphibious assault ship, was also in the vicinity.

In a display of Chinese military strength, China’s People’s Liberation Army has been conducting numerous exercises, including live fire drills, in the South China Sea, Yellow Sea, and Bohai Sea since last week.

Source: Reuters

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