TAIPEI – The widely reported visit to Taiwan by US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is being watched keenly by political observers and ordinary Taiwanese alike.

Premier Su Tseng-chang on Tuesday (Aug 2) said Taiwan “warmly welcomes” foreign guests, and that the island “would make the most appropriate arrangements” for such guests and respect their plans, when asked about Mrs Pelosi’s visit.

Mr Eric Chu, chairman of main opposition party Kuomintang, also said he welcomes “visits from international friends, as long as the visits are beneficial to Taiwan’s regional security, economy, trade, democracy and freedom”.

Mrs Pelosi is on an Asia tour that started in Singapore on Monday, followed by Malaysia on Tuesday, before heading to South Korea and Japan. There was no mention of Taiwan when her itinerary was announced on July 31.

A US air force jet that flew Mrs Pelosi to Malaysia left the capital Kuala Lumpur on Tuesday afternoon, according to flight-tracking website Flightradar24 and Reuters witnesses.

Reuters could not immediately establish if Mrs Pelosi or her delegation were on the plane.

Mrs Pelosi was expected to arrive in Taipei later in Taipei on Tuesday night, and that she would visit the Legislative Yuan, or the Parliament, and meet President Tsai Ing-wen on Wednesday.

While visits from US politicians in the past had been viewed positively by ordinary Taiwanese, some people, however, are feeling anxious this time round, in particular that Mrs Pelosi’s visit could trigger an imminent attack from China.

“People have been saying that China may fly warplanes and, perhaps, even fire missiles as (Mrs Pelosi) plans to land… this is giving me a lot of anxiety,” said Dr Mike Chang, 33, a surgeon based in Taipei.

On Tuesday, Reuters reported that several Chinese warplanes flew close to the median line dividing the Taiwan Strait. It was also reported that a number of Chinese warships had remained close to the unofficial dividing line since Monday.

A video by the Eastern Theatre Command of the People’s Liberation Army, which showed scenes of military exercises and preparations and was posted on state media sites on Monday evening, urged troops to “stand by in battle formation, be ready to fight upon command, bury all incoming enemies”.

In response, Taiwan’s troops reportedly began preparations of their own on Tuesday, adjusting their combat readiness in case China does launch an attack.

Taiwan’s Defence Ministry said on Tuesday that the island’s military was prepared to send “appropriate armed forces according to the threat”.

It added: “The military is determined, confident and capable of ensuring national security.”

Analysts, meanwhile, are less concerned about an immediate conflict and see the visit as more a personal achievement for Mrs Pelosi.

“I think the visit itself is a good thing; there is no negative implication,” said Professor Chen Fang-yu from the Department of Political Science at Soochow University in Taipei. “This is likely (Mrs Pelosi’s) last time travelling as House Speaker. This is like a wrap-up consistent with her image as a leading figure in the democratic world.”