China will hold live fire drills in waters near Fujian across from Taiwan

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The Pingtan Maritime Safety Administration issued a navigational warning ahead of the drills late Thursday local time and banned all vessels from entering waters near the island and southeastern Fujian province. It said the “live-fire training missions” would take place from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m

The news comes amid speculation about how China might respond to a possible visit by US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to Taiwan, a self-governing island that Beijing considers part of its territory although it has never controlled it.

Tensions have been simmering between the United States and China over the potential trip, with Chinese leader Xi Jinping recently warning US President Joe Biden that “if you play with fire, you get burned”.

In another incident, Taiwan’s defense ministry said it twice on Thursday spotted an unidentified drone flying over Dongyin Island — which is controlled by Taiwan but is close to mainland China — adding it couldn’t rule it out that the drone was used to “collect information” in the area.

The Defense Department’s statement made no reference to China and did not speculate about who might have operated the drone.

Pelosi was due to leave the US for a tour of Asia on Friday, but whether she will stop in Taiwan remains uncertain, a person familiar with her itinerary told CNN.

According to defense officials, the Pentagon is developing a security plan that includes ships and planes to ensure Pelosi is safe should a visit to Taiwan take place.

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