, Shandong Province, some 1,800 kilometers from the Taiwan Strait.

The House Speaker left for Asia on July 29. So when the 80th Group Army sounded its rhetoric, she was still opaque on the news about her potential stop in Taiwan, the self-ruling island China is trying to reclaim.

Chinese leader Xi Jinping once again conjured his “play with fire” warning to U.S. President Biden in a phone conversation on July 28. The last time he used such a phrase was last November when all eyes were on Washington as Taipei came under record military provocation from Beijing.

Defense officials are on high alert for when Pelosi sets foot on the island during her Asia trip. CNN says they are crafting a security plan to ensure her safety, with the worst-case scenario expected to be that the airplane carrying her could be shot down, as the House Speaker shared at a news conference. 

Richard Bush, a national intelligence officer for East Asia when tensions in the Taiwan Strait peaked in 1995, said the U.S. could not be heedless of Beijing’s potential reaction.

He told the Financial Times, “We have to take seriously the possibility that [Chinese president] Xi Jinping might order the People’s Liberation Army to engage at least in some limited use of military force and not just its display.”

“But there are reasons it’s too risky for China to engage even in limited war. It is clear that the U.S. would respond and they can’t be certain about winning. Also, they still have confidence that the psychological warfare they’ve been engaging in over the past six years will work.”

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