Taiwan is bracing for a potential show of force from China as US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is expected to arrive on the island later today.

Her visit, which is not backed by the White House, would be the first by such a senior US official in decades.

Pelosi is the third-highest ranking official in the US government and a long-time critic of Beijing.

China has repeatedly warned against the visit and said the US would “pay the price”.

Taiwan is a self-ruled island, but claimed by China, which sees it as a breakaway province.

China’s foreign ministry said the country had been in communication with the US about sensitivity of the visit.

Pelosi embarked on her tour of Asia on Sunday without mention of Taiwan on her itinerary.

She has so far visited Singapore and Malaysia, and also has stops in South Korea and Japan scheduled.

However she’s widely reported in Taiwanese and US media to be planning to land in Taipei later this evening and hold meetings with Taiwan’s leaders on Wednesday.