China has branded a landmark visit to Taiwan by US Speaker Nancy Pelosi as “extremely dangerous”.
It accused Mrs Pelosi, the most senior US politician in 25 years to visit the island China claims as its own, of “playing with fire”.
“Those who play with fire will perish by it,” Beijing warned in a statement.
Mrs Pelosi said her visit “honours America’s unwavering commitment to supporting Taiwan’s vibrant democracy” and did not contradict US policy.
As her plane touched down, Chinese state media reported that its military jets were crossing the Taiwan strait. Taiwan has denied any such action happened.
China – which sees Taiwan as a breakaway province which will one day reunite with it – has previously warned that its armed forces “will not stand idly by”.
In her statement, Mrs Pelosi said: “America’s solidarity with the 23 million people of Taiwan is more important today than ever, as the world faces a choice between autocracy and democracy.”
It follows days of escalating tension ahead of the visit.
China has been carrying out military exercises, and Chinese warplanes had already ventured out as far as the median line, the unofficial dividing line separating China and Taiwan in the waters between them.
However, while Mrs Pelosi’s visit had been the subject of vast international speculation for days, it had been shrouded in secrecy up until the last minute.
When she set off on a tour of Asia on Sunday, there was no mention of Taiwan on her official itinerary, which included Singapore, Malaysia, South Korea and Japan.
The White House has been open in its opposition to any such trip, and President Joe Biden said the military assessed as “not a good idea”.