Nancy Pelosi has arrived in Taiwan with Beijing labelling the visit as ‘extremely dangerous’

(BBC) China has branded a landmark visit to Taiwan by US Speaker Nancy Pelosi as “extremely dangerous”.

It accused Mrs Pelosi, the most senior US politician in 25 years to visit the island China claims as its own, of “playing with fire”.

“Those who play with fire will perish by it,” Beijing warned in a statement.

Mrs Pelosi said her visit “honours America’s unwavering commitment to supporting Taiwan’s vibrant democracy” and did not contradict US policy.

As her plane touched down, Chinese state media reported that its military jets were crossing the Taiwan strait. Taiwan has denied any such action happened.

China – which sees Taiwan as a breakaway province which will one day reunite with it – has previously warned that its armed forces “will not stand idly by”.

In her statement, Mrs Pelosi said: “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.”

In an article published in the Washington Post newspaper at the same time, Mrs. Pelosi also wrote that Taiwan’s “robust democracy… is under threat”.

“In the face of the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) accelerating aggression, our congressional delegation’s visit should be seen as an unequivocal statement that America stands with Taiwan, our democratic partner, as it defends itself and its freedom,” she said.

China has reacted furiously, vowing to conduct “targeted military exercises” in response.

It also announced that the People’s Liberation Army will conduct a series of live-fire military drills in the air and at sea around Taiwan later this week – warning ships and aircraft not to enter the affected areas.

It follows days of escalating tensions ahead of the visit, in which Chinese warplanes had already ventured out as far as the median line, the unofficial dividing line separating China and Taiwan in the waters between them.

However, while Mrs. Pelosi’s visit had been the subject of vast international speculation for days, it had been shrouded in secrecy up until the last minute.

When she set off on a tour of Asia on Sunday, there was no mention of Taiwan on her official itinerary, which included Singapore, Malaysia, South Korea and Japan.

The White House has been open in its opposition to any such trip, and President Joe Biden said the military assessed it as “not a good idea”.

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