Angry China stages more drills near Taiwan as U.S. lawmakers visit

  • China conducted drills near Taiwan while US lawmakers were visiting
  • China shows images of Taiwan’s strategic Pengu Islands
  • Taiwan President: Committed to Maintaining Stability

BEIJING/TAIPEI, Aug 15 (Reuters) – China’s military said it conducted more exercises near Taiwan on Monday as a group of U.S. lawmakers visited the Chinese-claimed island and met with President Tsai Ing-wen, who said she was committed to maintaining her government. Stability

Five US lawmakers, led by Senator Ed Markey, arrived in Taipei late Sunday for an unannounced visit, the second high-level group to visit after US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in early August, who began a multi-day trip. Chinese War Games.

The People’s Liberation Army’s Eastern Theater Command, the Chinese military unit responsible for areas adjacent to Taiwan, held multi-service joint combat readiness patrols and combat drills in the sea and airspace around Taiwan on Monday.

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The exercise was “a stern deterrent to the United States and Taiwan playing political tricks and disrupting peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait”, it said.

China’s defense ministry said in a separate statement that the lawmakers’ visit violated China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and “fully exposes the true face of the United States, which undermines and disrupts peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait”.

“The Chinese People’s Liberation Army continues to train and prepare for war, resolutely defend national sovereignty and territorial integrity, and will resolutely crush ‘Taiwan independence’ separatism and foreign interference.”

The theater command said the exercises took place near Taiwan’s Penggu Islands, which are in the Taiwan Strait and are home to a major air base, and showed close-up video of the islands taken by Chinese air force aircraft.

Tsai met with lawmakers at her office and said China’s exercise had a major impact on regional peace and stability.

“We are closely cooperating with international allies to closely monitor the military situation. At the same time, we are doing our best to let the world know that Taiwan is committed to maintaining stability and the status quo in the Taiwan Strait,” she said. Video footage released by the Office of the President said.

Markey told Tsai that it was “our moral duty” to do everything we could to avoid unnecessary conflict.

“Taiwan has shown incredible patience and prudence during challenging times,” he added.

Taiwan’s defense ministry said on Monday 15 Chinese aircraft crossed the center line of the Taiwan Strait, an unofficial barrier between the two, and condemned China’s new drills and would “calmly” deal with them.

Low key

Pelosi’s visit angered China, which responded to a ballistic missile test over Taipei for the first time and left few lines of communication with Washington, including theater military talks and on climate change.

However, the trip was much lower-key than Pelosi’s, with Tsai’s meeting with lawmakers not livestreamed on her social media pages, as is common practice when high-level foreign visitors arrive.

The group left Taiwan late on Monday afternoon and only then did the presidential office release footage of the meeting with Tsai.

It was not immediately clear where they were going.

The de facto US embassy in Taipei said it also met with Foreign Minister Joseph Wu and members of the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee of Taiwan’s parliament.

“Authoritarian China cannot decide how Taiwan makes friends,” Wu said on Twitter of his visit.

The United States has no formal diplomatic relations with Taiwan but is bound by law to provide the democratically-ruled island with the means to defend itself.

China has never ruled out the possibility of using force to bring Taiwan under its control. Taiwan’s government says the People’s Republic of China never ruled the island and therefore has no right to claim it, and that only the 23 million people can decide their future.

Taiwan’s Prime Minister Su Tseng-chang said he would not be deterred by China’s response to such visits by foreign friends.

“We can’t do anything because the neighbor is a bad neighbor, and doesn’t dare to let visitors or friends in,” he told reporters.

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Reporting by Ryan Wu and Ben Blanchard in Taipei; Editing by Himani Sarkar, Robert Birsel and Raisa Kasolosky

Our Standards: Principles of Thomson Reuters Trust.

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