The website for Taiwan’s presidential office was taken down by a cyberattack on Tuesday — just hours before US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was set to arrive on the island.
Around 5:15 pm local time, the presidential office in Taipei was hit with a distributed denial-of-service — or DDoS — attack from an unnamed “outside-border” adversary, the office wrote in a Facebook post. The site was down for about 20 minutes.
DDoS attacks involve taking down websites by overwhelming them with web traffic. In Taiwan’s case, the president’s site received 200 times more traffic than normal, knocking it offline, the Taiwanese government said.
The cyber-assault came as Pelosi’s plane approached Taiwan in a move that has enraged Chinese authorities, who have repeatedly threatened to retaliate against Taiwan and the US.
Pelosi is expected to land in Taipei on a private plane at around 10:20 p.m. local time, Taiwanese outlet the Liberty Times reported. The California Democrat is expected to meet with officials including Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen on Wednesday.
Ahead of Pelosi’s arrival on Tuesday, Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi predicted that US politicians who “play with fire” on the Taiwan will “come to no good end.”
Chinese aircraft spent Tuesday morning repeatedly conducting tactical moves in which they briefly “touched” the so-called “median line” dividing Beijing and Taipei’s airspace and maritime territory before circling back to the other side of the strait, a source briefed on the matter told Reuters. The person added that Taiwanese aircraft were on standby nearby while the exercises were performed.
The Chinese planes left the area Tuesday afternoon but Beijing’s ships remained, the person said. Neither side’s aircraft normally cross the median line.
Taiwan’s Defense Ministry said in a statement it has a full grasp of military activities near the island and will appropriately dispatch forces in reaction to “enemy threats”.
In the southeastern Chinese city of Xiamen, which lies opposite Taiwan and is home to a large military presence, residents reported sightings of armored vehicles on the move on Tuesday and posted pictures online.
Meanwhile the US Navy has positioned four warships, including an aircraft carrier, in waters east of Taiwan on “routine” deployments.
The carrier USS Ronald Reagan had crossed the South China Sea and was currently located in the Philippine Sea, east of Taiwan and south of Japan, Navy officials confirmed to Reuters on Tuesday.
Additional reporting by Snejana Farberov, Wires