Ominous warning as US ship heads towards Taiwan
China has vowed the US will suffer consequences as a result of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's planned trip to Taiwan.
Ms Pelosi has declined to comment about the possibility of the trip, which is the norm in such situations due to security reasons.
She has taken a hard stance against China since Tiananmen Square and while there has been support for her trip from both political parties in the US, Beijing is not pleased.
"If the US insists on going its own way and challenging China’s bottom line, it will surely be met with forceful responses,” Zhao Lijian, a spokesperson for China's Foreign Ministry said in a press briefing.
“All ensuing consequences shall be borne by the US.”
Meanwhile, the US has accused China of increased "provocations" against rival claimants to territory in the South China Sea.
US ship leaves Singapore for South China Sea
The US said China's "aggressive and irresponsible behaviour" means it is only a matter of time before a major incident or accident.
The South China Morning Post reported that China's People Liberation Army has bolstered deployment in the region and expanded an airbase in Fujian, a region in southeast China directly opposite Taiwan.
A US aircraft carrier has reportedly begun to head towards Taiwan.
The USS Ronald Reagan, a carrier which is based in Yokosuka, Japan, pulled into Singapore last week — the first visit since 2019.
The South China Sea Strategic Situation's Probing Initiative said on Twitter the carrier made its way back to the South China Sea on July 26.
It is not clear where the boat is headed, however, if it continues on its route, it would end up in the Taiwan Strait, the South China Morning Post reported.
USS Ronald Reagan CSG was back to the #SouthChinaSea last night, July 26. https://t.co/AaL9UD5BAD pic.twitter.com/ziA6f3ot0G
— SCS Probing Initiative (@SCS_PI) July 27, 2022
US General warns of China's 'disturbing' rhetoric
Speaking to ABC's 7.30 on Wednesday night, General Mark Milley, a high-ranking US military official said it is Ms Pelosi's decision to travel to Taiwan.
If she decides to travel, the military will support her where necessary.
"I don't know that it will necessarily increase tension, or not. We'll have to wait and see," he told 7.30 host Sarah Ferguson.
"There's rhetoric coming out of China that is quite disturbing about that."
US officials say they have little fear that Beijing would attack Pelosi’s plane, they are aware that a mishap, misstep or misunderstanding could endanger her safety.
However, other experts have raised alarm over the visit.
China is unlikely to shoot down Ms Pelosi's plane, director of the Asia Program at the German Marshall Fund's Bonnie Glaser told The Australian.
However, the Chinese military could react by flying into the same airspace and escorting her landing, she said.
China's military has become more 'dangerous'
General Milley said this week that the number of intercepts by Chinese aircraft and ships in the Pacific region with US and other partner forces has increased significantly over the past five years.
He said Beijing’s military has become far more aggressive and dangerous, and that the number of unsafe interactions has risen by similar proportions.
Those include reports of Chinese fighter jets flying so close to a Canadian air security patrol last month that the Canadian pilot had to swerve to avoid a collision.
Another close call involved an Australian surveillance flight in late May in which the Chinese crew released a flurry of metal scraps that were sucked into the other plane’s engine.
General Milley believes there is no indication of an imminent attack on Taiwan in the near future, however, he said China is "definitely working towards the capability" and may exercise that capability in a variety of ways throughout the year.
US President Joe Biden is set to speak with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping for the first time in four months this week.
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