Six F-15 Fighters and Three Tanker Aircraft 'Take Off From US Okinawa Base' as Pelosi Leaves Taiwan
09:49 GMT 03.08.2022 (Updated: 12:00 GMT 26.10.2022)
The visit of the US House speaker to Taiwan resulted in rising tensions between Washington and Beijing, as China lambasted the United States for the move and ordered military drills near the island to be held.
Six F-15 fighter jets and three tanker aircraft took off from the US base in Okinawa, Japan, on Wednesday, the NHK broadcaster reported. The aircraft took off at around 17:20 local time (08:20 GMT), according to NHK.
The report comes as the plane carrying the US delegation led by the House speaker departed from Taipei airport. Pelosi's visit to Taiwan lasted 19 hours and 20 minutes. The US delegation is currently on the way to South Korea.
Pelosi travaled to Taiwan despite protests from Chinese authorities, which consider her trip a violation of the One-China policy and a major provocation undermining relations between Washington and Beijing.
© AP Photo / J. Scott ApplewhiteSpeaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., speaks at a news conference as Democrats push to bring the assault weapons ban bill to the floor for a vote, at the Capitol in Washington, Friday, July 29, 2022. Pelosi says the House will consider the public safety bills on police reform later when the House considers the Senate reconciliation package. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., speaks at a news conference as Democrats push to bring the assault weapons ban bill to the floor for a vote, at the Capitol in Washington, Friday, July 29, 2022. Pelosi says the House will consider the public safety bills on police reform later when the House considers the Senate reconciliation package. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
© AP Photo / J. Scott Applewhite
During her visit to the island, the US politician addressed the local parliament and met President Tsai Ing-wen. Pelosi also accused Beijing of threatening Taiwan and "democracy itself." In response, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi warned that "those who offend China will be punished."
“This is a complete farce. The United States is violating China's sovereignty under the guise of so-called 'democracy' […]," Wang stated on the sidelines of a gathering of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in Phnom Penh on Tuesday.
China's top diplomat stressed that Beijing “will leave no room for action to pro-Taiwan independence forces or interference from outside forces.”
The island is governed separately from mainland China since 1949, when the communists won the civil war and Taiwan became the last stronghold of the Kuomintang nationalist party. Beijing considers Taiwan to be a part of the country, which is specified in the One-China policy. While the United States does not recognize Taiwan's independence, Washington enjoys close ties with Taibei, providing the island with weapons.
Tensions over the issue rose last year, when President Joe Biden said that the US military would protect Taiwan in case of aggression. However, the White House backtracked on those statements.