The US could move forces to the area to protect US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi if she visits the island, AP reports.
The Pentagon could send additional ships, planes and surveillance systems to protect U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi if she pursues plans to visit Taiwan, AP reported Wednesday, citing sources. unnamed US officials.
A “emergency plan”, which is developed by the US military, is to create “overlapping rings of protection” for the speaker during her flight to the island and her stay there, the news agency said.
Officials also spoke of the need to create “buffer zones” around Pelosi and his plane during the visit, ready for any potential China-related incidents, AP reported.
Beijing, which considers the self-governing island part of its territory, has repeatedly warned that Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan could trigger a serious backlash and have “unbearable consequences” for relations between China and the United States.
“If the United States insists on going its own way and challenging China’s financial performance, it will surely receive strong responses,” he added. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian told reporters on Wednesday.
US Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley recently noted that the number of interceptions by Chinese planes and ships in the Pacific region, involving US forces and their allies, has increased dramatically over the over the past five years. He also warned of a growing number of “risky” interactions.
US officials, who spoke to AP, doubted China would take direct action against Pelosi herself, but some analysts said a Chinese show of force could ‘go wrong’ and result in a dangerous accident, such as a collision Aerial.
Earlier, several outlets suggested that Beijing might go so far as to declare a no-fly zone over Taiwan or send warplanes to “escort” the Speaker’s plane.
Officials told AP that the United States would require on-the-ground rescue capabilities during the visit, adding that some helicopters and ships could be sent to the area for that purpose. They also said the prospect of interception or a show of force by the Chinese military would necessitate the presence of US aircraft in the area during the trip.
Milley did not comment on the exact steps that might be taken to keep Pelosi safe, but said the Pentagon “will do what is necessary to ensure the smooth running of their visit” if Pelosi goes to Taiwan.
According to AP, the United States already has enough forces spread across the Pacific region, and the Pentagon could possibly use them for additional protection during the trip. The news agency specifically named the US aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan and its strike group, which made a stopover in Singapore over the weekend, among those forces. The group includes the carrier itself, two other Navy ships and the Carrier Air Wing Five, made up of F/A-18 fighters, helicopters and surveillance planes. The USS Benfold, a destroyer that sailed through the Taiwan Strait last week, was also named.
Pelosi, who originally planned to visit Taiwan in April but postponed her trip after contracting Covid-19, has yet to confirm new dates for the visit. If she goes ahead with the plan, she will become the highest-ranking US lawmaker to visit the island in 25 years. Newt Gingrich, who was also Speaker of the House at the time, visited Taiwan in 1997.