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People in swimwear watched on in disbelief as a row of tanks performed a show of military might ahead of the visit as tensions escalated between Washington and Beijing, which claims the self-ruled island as its territory.
The footage, which went viral on social media site WeChat, was taken at a beach in Fujian province, the closest point in Chinese territory to Taiwan. The Standard could not independently verify the veracity of the footage.
Latest footage circulating on Chinese social media WeChat shows armoured vehicles on the move in the southern Chinese city of Xiamen, as US Speaker Pelosi is reportedly heading to Taipei. pic.twitter.com/ePpJsO2VyM
— Bang Xiao 萧邦 (@BangXiao_) August 2, 2022
China vowed to retaliate as Ms Pelosi touched down in Taiwan on Tuesday, saying there would be “serious consequences” for her visit.
Officials have speculated that China could hold military exercises, and there are fears of possible incursions by Chinese planes and ships into areas under Taiwanese control.
Barricades were erected outside the Grand Hyatt Hotel in Taipei where Pelosi is expected to stay amid heightened security.
Two buildings in the capital lit up LED displays with words of welcome, including the iconic Taipei 101 building, which said “Welcome to Taiwan, Speaker Pelosi”.
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said Washington’s betrayal “on the Taiwan issue is bankrupting its national credibility”.
“Some American politicians are playing with fire on the issue of Taiwan,” Wang said in a statement. “This will definitely not have a good outcome ... the exposure of America’s bullying face again shows it as the world’s biggest saboteur of peace.”
China sees Taiwan as its own territory and has repeatedly warned of “serious consequences” if the reported trip to the island democracy goes ahead. Pelosi has said she will visit Singapore, Malaysia, South Korea and Japan for talks on a variety of topics, including trade, Covid, climate change and security.
While there have been no official announcements, local media in Taiwan reported Pelosi will arrive Tuesday night, making her the highest-ranking elected US official to visit in more than 25 years.
“The first big relief point will be Pelosi’s safe arrival in Taiwan, followed by her safe departure,” said Stephen Innes, managing partner at SPI Asset Management.
“No party wants a real war, but the risk of mishap or even aggressive war game escalation is real, which could always lead to a tactical mistake.”