U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi arrived in Taiwan on Tuesday night, becoming the highest-ranking American official to visit the self-ruled island that is claimed by China in 25 years.
Pelosi's visit has triggered increased tensions between China and the United States. China claims Taiwan as part of its territory, to be annexed by force if necessary, and views visits by foreign government officials as recognition of the island's sovereignty.
Chiang Ying-ying / AP
China had warned of "resolute and strong measures" if Pelosi went ahead with the trip. The Biden administration did not explicitly urge her to call it off, while seeking to assure Beijing it would not signal any change in U.S. policy on Taiwan.
China, which regards Taiwan as a renegade province to be annexed by force if necessary, has repeatedly warned of retaliation if Pelosi visits, saying its military will "never sit idly by."
"The U.S. and Taiwan have colluded to make provocations first, and China has only been compelled to act out of self-defense," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying told reporters Tuesday in Beijing.
Hua said China has been in constant communication with the U.S. and made clear "how dangerous it would be if the visit actually happens." Any countermeasures China take will be "justified and necessary" in the face of Washington's "unscrupulous behavior," she said.
Shortly before Pelosi was due to arrive, Chinese state media said Chinese SU-35 fighter jets were "crossing" the Taiwan Strait, the body of water that separates mainland China and Taiwan. It wasn't immediately clear where they were headed or what they planned to do.
Unspecified hackers launched a cyberattack on the Taiwanese Presidential Office's website, making it temporarily unavailable Tuesday evening. The Presidential Office said the website was restored shortly after the attack, which overwhelmed it with traffic.
"China thinks by launching a multi-domain pressure campaign against Taiwan, the people of Taiwan will be be intimidated. But they are wrong," Wang Ting-yu, a legislator with the Democratic Progressive Party, said on Twitter in response to the attack.
China's military threats have driven concerns of a new crisis in the 100-mile-wide Taiwan Strait that could roil global markets and supply chains.
The White House on Monday decried Beijing's rhetoric, saying the U.S. has no interest in deepening tensions with China and "will not take the bait or engage in saber rattling."
Additional reporting by The Associated Press.