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Nancy Pelosi arrives in Taiwan; China plans military operations

Taiwan alleges China is threatening its key ports and cities with drills around the island. Over 20 Chinese military planes had entered Taiwan's airspace during the day. Taipei is preparing to face an invasion.

TAIPEI, Aug 2: Defying Chinese sabre-rattling, Nancy Pelosi arrived in Taiwan. Joined by eight escort fighter aircraft and five refuelling planes from bases in Japan, US House of Representatives Speaker Pelosi's Air Force transport plane landed at Taipei's Songshan airport on Tuesday night at the height of escalating tension between the US and China over her "provocative" visit to self-ruled Taiwan, which Beijing claims as its territory.

"The Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) is on high alert and will launch a series of targeted military operations to counter this (visit)," a PLA spokesman said as soon as Pelosi landed, while Taiwan's Defence Ministry said "China attempts to threaten our key ports and cities with drills around Taiwan." More than 20 Chinese military planes had entered Taiwan's airspace during the day.

After arriving in Taiwan, Pelosi (82) said the US honours its commitment to democracy. America’s solidarity with the 23 million people of Taiwan is more important today than ever, she said in a statement. "Our (congressional) delegation’s visit to Taiwan honors America’s unwavering commitment to supporting Taiwan’s vibrant democracy," she tweeted. Pelosi is the highest-ranking elected US official to visit Taiwan in more than 25 years, after Newt Gingrich.

A fuming China said her visit violates the “one China” principle and the provisions of the three Sino-US communiqués. But Pelosi said the visit in no way contradicts the communiques. Earlier on Tuesday China warned the US it will "pay the price" if Pelosi visits Taiwan during her Asia trip. A week ago it had also threatened its military would shoot down Pelosi's plane if it enters Taiwan air space.

Reacting to Chinese "sabre-rattling", the US had warned Beijing against overreacting to a visit by US House Speaker to a democratically self- governed Taiwan.

On arrival at the airport, Pelosi and the delegation were greeted by Taiwan's Foreign Minister Joseph Wu and US representative in Taiwan Sandra Oudkirk.

Pelosi will meet Tsai Ing-wen, first female president of Taiwan, and Speaker You Si-kun and fulfil other official engagements on Wednesday.

Before her arrival Chinese warplanes had lined up in Taiwan Strait.

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