U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has arrived in Taiwan for meetings with President Tsai Ing-wen and local legislators in the self-ruled island, as Beijing bristled over what it said was interference with its core interests.
Mrs. Pelosi and other members of a Congressional delegation will spend a night in Taipei on Tuesday, people familiar with the plans said.
The closely watched Asia tour has raised tensions between China and the U.S., with Beijing’s diplomats and the People’s Liberation Army repeatedly threatening responses should Mrs. Pelosi go through with the visit to Taiwan, which China regards as its territory.
Cyberattacks Bring Down Taiwan Government Websites
Taiwan said the website of its presidential office was hit by an overseas cyberattack on Tuesday, taking it out of commission on a day when China, angered by a planned visit by U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, had threatened unspecified countermeasures.
The denial-of-service attack, in which hackers send an overwhelming flood of requests to the computers to impair normal users accessing a site, sent 200 times the average volume of traffic compared with a normal day, said Chang Tun-Han, a spokesman for the presidential office. He said that the website resumed normal operation within 20 minutes of the attack, which took place at around 5:15 p.m. local time.
Mr. Chang didn’t name a suspect for the attack but said Taiwan’s government would continue to monitor the situation and try to maintain the stable operation of critical infrastructure “in the face of ongoing complex information warfare by foreign forces.”
The cyberattacks appear to be continuing, according to checks by The Wall Street Journal. At around 7:30 p.m. local time, some Taiwanese government websites, including the one belonging to the President’s Office, were down again for around half an hour, displaying error messages or saying the website couldn’t be found. After a brief resumption of operation, some of the websites were knocked out once more at around 9:10 p.m. local time.
At a daily news briefing on Tuesday afternoon, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying had warned of strong countermeasures by China without providing details of what they would be.
Cyberattacks aren’t uncommon around times of high international political tension. On the eve of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, a distributed denial-of-service attack also briefly brought down major Ukrainian government’s and financial institutions’ websites.
Chinese Fighter Jets Crossing Taiwan Strait: State Media
Chinese fighter jets have crossed the Taiwan Strait, Beijing’s state media reported Tuesday night, as tensions flare over an expected visit to the island by US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. “China’s Su-35 fighter jets are crossing the Taiwan Straits,” state TV CGTN reported, without adding further details.
Several Chinese fighter jets flew close to the median line that divides the Taiwan Strait on Tuesday morning, according to a Taiwanese official briefed on the developments, in a reminder to Taipei that Beijing’s air force could reach the island in a matter of minutes.
Military units across the People’s Liberation Army’s Southern Theater Command, which is in charge of the South China Sea and some Taiwan-related missions, have entered a status of high alert, according to military officials in two neighbouring countries.
China Suspends Imports of Hundreds of Taiwan Products
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China temporarily halted imports of hundreds of Taiwanese food products, a move that came just ahead of a controversial visit to the self-governing island by U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
The website of China’s General Administration of Customs listed a few hundred Taiwanese products as “import suspended.” Some were associated with local major food manufacturers, pastry makers and dairy farms.
An official at Taiwan’s Council of Agriculture said the council’s initial assessment is that the restrictions hit hardest aquatic products, tea and honey, and that it is still in the process of contacting relevant companies to learn the full scope, the person said.
The Fisheries Agency, also under the Council of Agriculture, said it found some businesses failed to complete Chinese registration by late June, partly as a result of cumbersome paperwork. The government is helping those wishing to export their products to China to refile by the end of August.
The Chinese suspensions didn’t constitute a comprehensive ban, but there were so many of them that Taiwan hopes they can be resolved soon, the official said.
Taiwan’s Ministry of Economic Affairs said that it is aware of the situation and that relevant government agencies will assist the affected companies to handle their response properly.
Among the affected products were sauces and seasonings produced by Wei Chuan Foods Corp., one of Taiwan’s biggest food manufacturers. A spokeswoman for Wei Chuan said it is working with the government to understand the situation and formulate a solution.
China in June imposed an export ban on Taiwanese grouper, an industry that is highly dependent on Chinese buyers. Beijing previously banned Taiwanese pineapples, wax apples and sugar apples.
According to data provided by the Council of Agriculture, China has been the top buyer of Taiwanese grouper for decades. Though exports to China in recent years have been cut in half—to $54.8 million in 2021 from $108.8 million in 2018—China buys for more than 90% of Taiwan’s total exports of the fish.
Taiwan Airport Receives Bomb Threat Directed at Pelosi’s Arrival
Police said they have stepped up patrols at Taoyuan International Airport, Taiwan’s busiest, in response to a bomb threat directed at the planned arrival of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on the island.
A threat was sent Tuesday to Taoyuan Airport, which is located just outside the Taiwanese capital of Taipei, through a form on the airport’s website, according to the island’s Aviation Police Bureau. The message claimed that three explosive devices would be placed inside the airport to prevent Mrs. Pelosi from visiting Taiwan, the Aviation Police Bureau said. Taoyuan International Airport confirmed having received the threat but declined to comment further, citing a continuing investigation.
No explosions or damage have been reported. Chen Pei-shu, deputy commander of the Aviation Police Bureau, said in a video statement that the agency is probing the case alongside criminal investigators and a cybercrime task force.
While fake bomb threats have been reported at the airport in the past, Mr. Chen, who handles criminal matters, said the preflight inspections have been strengthened to ensure airport security as they are taking the threat case seriously.
Mrs. Pelosi’s office has yet to officially confirm that she will travel to Taiwan, though people who are set to meet with her in Taiwan have been informed of her imminent arrival, according to people familiar with the matter.
Though Tuesday’s bomb threat was directed at Taoyuan, the main international airport serving Taipei, Mrs. Pelosi is actually set to arrive at Taipei Songshan Airport, one of the people said. Taipei Songshan, though a regional airport that serves fewer flights than Taoyuan, has one obvious advantage—it hosts an air force base.
One wrinkle for Mrs. Pelosi: the weather in Taipei was so rainy for parts of Tuesday that the capital issued an alert and the military had to cancel a planned afternoon flight from Songshan Airport. As of early evening Tuesday, however, those rains had largely subsided.