China conducts military exercises in Taiwan after warning Pelosi to cancel the trip. China

China said it was conducting military drills off its coast in front of Taiwan after US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi warned her of possible plans for a trip to the island democracy.

The ruling Communist Party’s military wing, the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), was conducting a “live-fire exercise” on Saturday from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. near Pington Island in Fujian province, official Xinhua news agency said. The Maritime Security Administration warned ships to avoid the area.

Such exercises usually involve artillery. The one-sentence declaration gave no indication that the exercise might also involve missiles, fighter aircraft or other weapons.

Pelosi, who will be the highest US elected official to visit Taiwan since 1997, has yet to confirm whether she will.

President Xi Jinping warned his US counterpart, Joe Biden, in a phone call on Thursday against “external interference” in Beijing’s dealings with the island.

China says Taiwan has no right to conduct foreign relations. It sees the visits of US officials as an incentive for the island to make its decades-old de facto independence official.

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China’s defense ministry this week warned Washington not to allow Pelosi to travel to Taiwan, which is on par with Biden as leader of one of the three branches of government. A spokesman said the PLA would take unspecified “coercive measures” to curb pro-independence activity.

The PLA has flown a growing number of fighters and bombers near Taiwan and has in the past fired missiles into shipping lanes on the island.

Taiwan and China split in 1949 after a civil war that ended with a communist victory on the mainland.

Both governments say they are one country, but disagree about who deserves national leadership. They have no official ties but are linked with billions of dollars in trade and investment.

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