China announces new series of drills following the visit of US lawmakers in Taiwan

A People's Liberation Army member looks through binoculars during military exercises in waters around Taiwan last week. (Photo: Lin Jian/Xinhua News Agency)

China has announced additional military exercises surrounding Taiwan as the island's president met with members of a new US congressional delegation on Monday (local time), further indicating legislative support for the self-governing island Beijing claims as its own.

Taiwanese media depicted the arrival of the negotiating party, but specifics of the discussion were not immediately made public. The party was scheduled to depart Monday evening on a government aircraft.

The visit occurred less than two weeks after the travel to Taiwan by US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, which provoked days of threatening military exercises by China, including the firing of missiles over the island and into the Taiwan Strait. Pelosi is the highest-ranking US government official to visit Taiwan in 25 years.

China also dispatched airplanes and naval vessels across the waterway's median, which has served as a buffer between the sides since 1949's civil war. China views formal communications between US legislators and the island's government as a sign of support for the island's independence from Beijing.

China's People's Liberation Army announced more maneuvers in the seas and skies surrounding Taiwan on Monday, the Defense Ministry and its Eastern Theatre Command declared in a joint statement.

The exercises are a "firm response and solemn deterrent against collusion and provocation between the United States and Taiwan," according to the ministry.

Taiwan placed its military on high alert in response to China's preceding two weeks of menacing drills, but the populace reacted with apathy and defiance.

In Taipei, the capital of Taiwan, the chairperson of the legislature's Foreign and National Defence Committee, Lo Chih-Cheng, met with the US legislators and stated that "their visit at this time is of great significance, as the Chinese military exercise is designed to discourage US congressmen from visiting Taiwan."

"Their visit demonstrates that China cannot prevent politicians from any country from visiting Taiwan, and it also sends an important message that the American people stand with the Taiwanese people," added Lo.

China claims it wishes to subjugate Taiwan by peaceful methods, but its latest saber-rattling has emphasized its threat to seize the island by force. The prior exercises seemed to be a rehearsal for a blockade or attack on Taiwan, prompting the cancellation of commercial flights and hampering shipping to Taiwan's principal ports and goods transiting across the Taiwan Strait, one of the busiest maritime routes in the world.

Massachusetts senator Ed Markey, a Democrat, will lead the five-member congressional delegation in a meeting with other government and corporate sector members. Investing in Taiwan's vital semiconductor industry and decreasing tensions in the Taiwan Strait are considered major debate points.

Republican Representative Aumua Amata Coleman Radewagen, a delegate from American Samoa, is joined by Democrats John Garamendi, Alan Lowenthal, and Don Beyer from California and Virginia, respectively.

A senior White House official on Asia policy stated last week that China had exploited Pelosi's visit as an excuse to launch an increased pressure campaign on Taiwan, jeopardizing regional peace and security.

On a call with reporters, Kurt Campbell, a deputy assistant to President Joe Biden, stated, "China has overreacted and its actions continue to be provocative, destabilizing, and unprecedented."

"It has attempted to disregard the centerline between the PRC and Taiwan, which has been respected by both sides for more than 60 years as a stabilizing feature," he said, using the acronym for the People's Republic of China, China's official name.

China accuses the United States of promoting Taiwan's independence movement by selling the island military weaponry and interacting with Taiwanese authorities. The United States has stated that it does not support Taiwan's independence and that its problems with China should be settled peacefully.

The Chinese Communist Party has long stated that it favors Taiwan's peaceful incorporation into China but will not rule out the use of force if necessary. In 1949, following a civil war in which the Communists took the power of China and the Nationalists lost and fled to Taiwan, the two separated.

Campbell stated on Friday that the United States would send warships and aircraft through the Taiwan Strait in the following weeks and that the United States is drafting a roadmap for trade discussions with Taiwan that it plans to publish in the coming days.

Publish : 2022-08-15 16:37:00

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