US warns China preparing 'further steps' after live fire drill

China is preparing to take further action, including possible "military provocations," amid heightened tensions over a potential visit of a senior US lawmaker to Taiwan, the White House said on Monday.

The warning comes after Beijing carried out a live fire military exercise in the Taiwan Strait on Saturday amid mounting tensions over US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's prospective visit to the island, which has maintained its independence for decades, but which China views as a "breakaway province."

"China appears to be positioning itself to potentially take further steps in the coming days and perhaps over longer time horizons," National Security Council spokesman John Kirby told reporters.

"These potential steps from China could include military provocations, such as firing missiles in the Taiwan Strait or around Taiwan, operations that break historical norms, such as large-scale air entry into Taiwan's air defense identification zone, air or naval activities that cross the median line, and military exercises that can be highly publicized," he added.

Pelosi has not tipped her hand, but if she goes ahead with the visit, she will be the first sitting US House speaker to visit Taiwan in 25 years, following Republican Newt Gingrich's 1997 trip to meet then-President Lee Teng-hui.

In a briefing on Thursday, Wu Qian, a spokesperson for the Chinese Defense Ministry, said the People's Liberation Army will "never tolerate Taiwan independence separatist acts and external interference."

Zhao Lijian, a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman, also repeated Beijing's "firm opposition" to the potential visit.

Interactions between Washington and Taipei have grown significantly, with former and sitting lawmakers and officials making trips to the island, which is home to over 25 million people.

The US formally recognized China in 1979 and shifted diplomatic relations from Taipei to Beijing, including Taiwan as part of mainland China under Washington's One China policy.

Source: AA

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