Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Vice Chairman Andrew Hsia (夏立言) applied to visit Beijing on Aug. 4 as the first volleys of China’s live-fire exercises splashed into waters around Taiwan, Presidential Office spokesman Alex Huang (黃重諺) said yesterday.
The KMT’s application to make contact with Chinese officials in Beijing was received by the Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) on the first day of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army’s (PLA) live-fire drills, Huang told a Yahoo TV online talk show (齊有此理) in a segment that aired yesterday.
MAC officials do not know whether the KMT arranged the trip before China announced the drills or was pressed into making it, he said, adding that officials advised the party that its timing was poor.
Photo: Lee Hsin-fang, Taipei Times
“It was felt that [the trip] would send the wrong signal to the international community when we should be standing together in solidarity to show our determination to defend the country,” he said.
Asked to explain why US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi did not initially include Taiwan as a stop in her Asia tour, Huang said that Taiwan had been part of her itinerary before China threatened to shoot down her plane if she visited.
Washington did not disclose Pelosi’s plans to visit Taiwan until the last moment to help ensure her safety, he said.
Former Democratic Progressive Party legislator Lee Chun-yi (李俊俋), the party’s Chiayi City mayoral candidate, said on the show that Pelosi had told him when he was in San Francisco in January that she would visit Taiwan this year.
Pelosi told him that she must show her support for free and democratic Taiwan before the US midterm elections in November, which could be her last in a long political career, Lee said.
Huang said that Pelosi’s visit was only a pretext for Bejing and that its drills were part of China’s long-term strategy to tighten its grip on the first island chain.
The PLA has steadily ratcheted up the intensity and frequency of its sea and air drills since April, he said, citing as an example a mission in June that circled Japan.
Beijing likely planned its latest drills as a prelude to further displays of military power, such as missile tests in the Pacific beyond the first island chain, he said, adding that these were planned regardless of Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan.
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