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The Chinese military announced it would be holding live-fire naval exercises Saturday in the Taiwan Strait ahead of a possible visit to Taiwan by U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
Tensions are high in the region with a U.S. strike group heading to the South China Sea and Pelosi possibly en route to Taiwan during her tour of Asian allied countries like Japan and Malaysia. Pelosi could become the highest-ranking American elected official to visit Taiwan since 1997.
Chinese officials have exploded with anger at the proposition, saying that such a visit would violate the One China Policy and would constitute aiding an illegal rebellion. If Pelosi does attempt to visit Taiwan, one Chinese state media personality even suggested shooting down her plane.
The Chinese exercises were to take place over a 13-hour period, according to state media.
The People's Republic of China has long claimed sovereignty over Taiwan and the Taiwan Strait, the relatively narrow strip of ocean between the island of Taiwan and the Chinese mainland. The Chinese military has frequently sent planes into the area, testing Taiwan's air defense zone.
The U.S. does not have official relations with Taiwan — also known as the Republic of China — and maintains a One China Policy that recognizes the People's Republic of China as the legitimate successor nation.
However, America has been stepping up engagement with the island as China seeks to isolate it from global institutions.
U.S. military officials are also moving forces into the ocean area near Taiwan ahead of the visit.
The Pentagon has sent an aircraft carrier to the South China Sea ahead of a possible visit to Taiwan by Pelosi.
The USS Ronald Reagan and a strike group are currently there after they left a port in Singapore Tuesday. A Navy spokesperson confirmed the news but said it was a planned trip.
"I can confirm USS Ronald Reagan and her strike group are now underway, operating in the South China Sea following a successful port visit to Singapore," Lt. Mark Langford said. "As a matter of policy, we do not discuss future ship movements; however, I will add that Reagan is continuing normal, scheduled operations as part of her routine patrol in support of a free and open Indo-Pacific."