China to conduct live fire drill opposite self-governing island of Taiwan

China is planning to conduct live-fire exercises on Saturday in waters near Pingtan Island of Fujian province, which is opposite the self-governing island of Taiwan.

The Pingtan Maritime Safety Administration issued a navigation warning about the drills late on Thursday local time, prohibiting all ships from entering waters near the island and the southeastern province of Fujian. It said the “live-fire training missions” would take place from 8am to 9pm

The news comes amid speculation over how China could respond to a potential visit by US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to Taiwan, a self-ruled island that Beijing sees as part of its territory, despite never having 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 a separate incident, Taiwan’s Defense Ministry said it had detected an unidentified drone flying over Dongyin Island, which is controlled by Taiwan but located near mainland China twice on Thursday, adding that it could not rule out that the drone was used to “gather intelligence” in the area.

Pelosi had been set to depart the US on Friday for a tour of Asia, though whether she will stop in Taiwan remains uncertain.

A security plan involving ships and aircraft is being developed by the Pentagon to ensure Pelosi is kept safe should a visit to Taiwan go ahead.