The Chinese military conducted live-fire exercises Saturday off its coast opposite Taiwan amid reports that US Speaker Nancy Pelosi is in the air on her way to the region.

China threatened to shoot Pelosi’s plane if it attempted landing on the island democracy that Beijing claimed as its territory.

Pelosi may have left Friday night to begin her Asian trip, possibly including a stop in Taiwan. Beijing has warned that the US will ‘bear all consequence’ for this visit.

It could lead to the most severe crisis in Taiwan’s Straits for nearly 40 years. 

Beijing was furious at the US’s third-ranking official visiting Taiwan. Xi Jinping, the Chinese leader, warned Joe Biden that ‘those playing with fire will perish’. 

“It is hoped the US will see this clearly.”

Officially, the Xinhua News Agency reported that the People’s Liberation Army was carrying out ‘live-fire drills’ close to Pingtan islands in Fujian province. The Maritime Safety Administration advised ships not to enter the region.

US Speaker Nancy Pelosi is reported to be in the air on her way to the Asia-Pacifc region for the start of Japan, Singapore, Indonesia and Malaysia in August amid threats by China to shoot her down if she visits the island of Taiwan

The Chinese Xuchang, a Type 054A multi-role frigate

Chinese People's Liberation Army Navy Surface Force Type 052D destroyer Xining

The two vessels were identified as a Type 052D Chinese destroyer, and a Type 054A warship. They were both seen from 27 km and 23km of the Taiwan Strait. Each vessel is equipped with surface to air missiles (file photographs).

Xi warned Biden on the call, according to Chinese state media: 'Those who play with fire will only get burnt. Hope the US side can see this clearly'

According to Chinese media, Xi told Biden that he had called him on his call. This is what I hope the US side will see.

President Joe Biden posted an image to his Twitter from a two-hour call Thursday morning with Chinese President Xi Jinping – the fifth between the two since Biden took office

President Joe Biden posted an image to his Twitter from a two-hour call Thursday morning with Chinese President Xi Jinping – the fifth between the two since Biden took office

Artillery is usually used in such exercises. It was not clear from the announcement that Saturday’s exercise might also include missiles, fighter aircrafts, or any other weapon.

Duan Dang, a Vietnamese maritime observer, identified two other vessels as a Type 052D destroyer from China and a Type 054A ship. They were both seen at 27km and 23km respectively near the Taiwan Strait. Both ships are equipped with surface to air missiles.

After exercises in Hainan and nearby Hainan, China’s navy began conducting exercises near Guangdong on its southern coast. 

This is all done to show force and dissuade Pelosi not from visiting the island. Joe Biden is the leader of the US co-equal legislature and has no authority over her to cancel the trip.

Biden stated last week that the Pentagon considered a Taiwan trip ‘not a good idea’. 

Biden replied to a question regarding Pelosi’s reported trip, saying “Well, it seems that the military doesn’t think it’s a good idea at this time.” “But I don’t know the status. 

China is ratcheting up rhetoric to exacerbate the crisis, and the Chinese-affiliated Global Times is crowing that ‘don’t say we weren’t warned you! 

China may have used this phrase before they fought India in 1962, and Vietnam in 1979.

And a commentator with Beijing mouthpiece the Global Times, Hu Xijn, called US fighter jets escorting Pelosi’s plane into Taiwan an ‘invasion’.

“The PLA can forcibly remove Pelosi’s plane, as well as the US fighter aircrafts. This includes firing warning shots and tactical movements of obstruction. He wrote that if they are ineffective then shoot them down.

This will be the first time in 25 years that such an American high-ranking elected official will visit the United States, according to a member the House foreign affairs Committee. 

Pictured: Taiwanese navy launches a US-made Standard missile from a frigate during the annual Han Kuang Drill, on the sea near the Suao navy harbor in Yilan county on July 2

Pictured: Taiwanese navy launches a US-made Standard missile from a frigate during the annual Han Kuang Drill, on the sea near the Suao navy harbor in Yilan county on July 2

China claims Taiwan does not have the right to engage in foreign relations. China sees American officials’ visits as encouragement to Taiwan to recognize its long-standing de facto independence. 

PLA has flown increasing numbers of bombers and fighter planes near Taiwan, and in the past has fired missiles at shipping lanes that lead to Taiwan. 

In a telephone conversation on Thursday between leaders from the superpowers, Chinese Premier said that he opposes Taiwan’s independence and interference by external forces. 

According to the reading of the meeting, Biden stated that the US position on this issue has not changed.

“On Taiwan, President Biden stressed that the United States’ policy had not changed, and that the United States opposes any unilateral attempts to alter the status quo, undermine peace or stability in the Taiwan Strait,” the states readout.

Wu Xinbo of Fudan University’s Center for American Studies, Shanghai told Financial Times that if she does not return, Taiwan Strait will have a crisis. This will likely be worse than the one in 1995-1996. 

This is due to China’s far greater military capabilities than they were 26 years ago.

However, analysts think China would prefer to not be involved in an open conflict with the US. The US has military bases scattered throughout the South China Sea and the USS Ronald Reagan air carrier group. 

Despite this hesitation, the PLA has flown increasing numbers fighter planes and bombarders close to Taiwan. It has even fired missiles into the shipping lanes leading to Taiwan in the past.

After a civil war, Taiwan and China were split in 1949. The conflict ended with the victory of communists on the mainland.

They claim to be one nation but have different views on which government is allowed to assume national leadership. Although they do not have official relations, billions of dollars worth in investment and trade are able to link them.