Chinese holidaymakers left shocked after a convoy of armed forces tanks drove past a beach in Fujian province near Taiwan

Tensions between Beijing and Washington have further escalated with the reported arrival of armored tanks at the closest point between China and Taiwan.

Beijing reportedly deployed the convoy of People’s Liberation Army (PLA) military vehicles to Pintang Island, about 125 kilometers from Taiwan, on Tuesday ahead of the alleged arrival of US President Nancy Pelosi.

Television footage to Chinese state media showed the moment holidaymakers moved towards the water or higher in the sand as a long line of armed forces vehicles drove past stunned sunbathers in the coastal town of Xiamen, Fujian province.

Dozens of tourists could be seen filming the light amphibious tanks before later posting the clips on Chinese social media Weibo.

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The move followed Speaker Pelosi’s supposed trip to Taiwan, but China has since stepped up its response after meeting with other US officials.

The PLA was placed on high alert and the Defense Ministry said it would launch ‘targeted military operations’ after sending a number of Chinese warplanes buzzing along the Taiwan Strait between China and the island of 23 million people.

The air and sea exercises will begin Tuesday evening local time. Conventional missiles will also be tested in the sea east of Taiwan with live-fire exercises from Thursday to Sunday.

Long-range combat live fire in the Taiwan Strait will also be conducted, Senior Colonel Shi Yi and spokesman for the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) of the Eastern Theater Command wrote in a statement.

“The spokesperson stressed that these military operations are the stern deterrent against the major escalation of the United States’ negative measures in Taiwan, and also the grave warning about the separatist actions of the ‘Taiwan independence’ forces.” , did he declare.

Speaker Pelosi, second in line to the presidency, began her tour of Asia, which includes stops in Singapore, Malaysia, South Korea and Japan.

She made no mention of a visit to the island – the first in 25 years by a Speaker of the United States House – before leaving, but she was expected when she arrived at Songshan airport in the capital Taipei late Tuesday evening.

The US delegation and the 82-year-old were greeted by Taiwanese Foreign Minister Joseph Wu and Sandra Oudkirk, a senior US representative.

Speaker Pelosi, wearing a baby pink suit, shared a photo of herself and lawmakers on social media in front of a US Air Force plane.

“Our visit reiterates that America stands with Taiwan: a strong and vibrant democracy and our important partner in the Indo-Pacific,” she wrote on Twitter.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said “some American politicians are playing with fire on the Taiwan issue” after Beijing lodged a protest against the trip with the United States.

“It will certainly not have a good outcome, the exposure of America’s intimidating face shows it again as the world’s greatest peace saboteur,” he said in a statement.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said at the daily press conference on Tuesday that a trip by President Pelosi would see Beijing respond with “strong and resolute measures to protect our sovereignty and security”.

“China and the United States have maintained close communication with Beijing and Washington at different levels and through different channels,” she said.

“And we have repeatedly and unequivocally expressed to the U.S. side our strong opposition to President Pelosi’s potential visit to Taiwan.

“And we hope that US officials are clear about the importance and sensitivity of this issue and the potential danger in the event of this visit.”

White House National Security spokesman John Kirby reiterated that Congress — which Speaker Pelosi represents on the trip — was able to make its own travel decisions and that the visit was not ordered by US President Joe Biden.

“Let’s be clear: the speaker’s visit is fully in line with our long-standing one-China policy,” he said at a press briefing on Tuesday local time.

“We have been very clear that nothing has changed with our one China policy.

“We said we don’t support Taiwan independence and we said we expect cross-Strait differences to be resolved through peaceful means.”

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian warned a day earlier that the PLA would “never stand idly by” if it felt threatened.

Beijing has repeatedly signaled in the past that a visit would have “serious consequences” and warned that “those who play with fire will perish”.

He also pointed out that Washington is in “serious violation” of the one-China policy, which declares that there is only one Chinese government and that Taiwan is part of its territory.