China holds new military exercises as US lawmakers visit Taiwan

China announced on Monday that it has organized new military exercises around Taiwan, where five US lawmakers are visiting two weeks after the trip by the speaker of the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosiwhich triggered the wrath of Beijing.

“On August 15, the Chinese People’s Liberation Army Eastern Theater organized a multi-service joint combat readiness patrol and combat exercises in the sea and airspace around Taiwan,” the Chinese military said in a statement. release.

The US delegation, led by Senator Ed Markey of Massachusetts, arrived in Taiwan on Sunday night and met on Monday with the Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wenaccording to Washington’s de facto embassy in Taipei.

The delegation had the opportunity to exchange views with Taiwanese counterparts on a wide range of issues of importance to the United States and Taiwan,” he said.

Tsai told lawmakers she wants to “maintain a status quo across the Taiwan Strait” and “jointly uphold the prosperity and stability of the Indo-Pacific region,” her office said in a statement.

He added that the Russian invasion of Ukraine it demonstrated “the threat that authoritarian states pose to the world order,” according to his office, and also thanked Washington for its support in the face of Chinese military threats.

The lawmakers’ visit, focused on trade, regional security and climate change, according to the embassy, ​​was not previously announced and comes two weeks after Pelosi’s trip to Taiwan, a self-governing island that China claims as its own.

China reacted angrily and launched the largest military exercises in its history around Taiwan: for five days, the army deployed warships, missiles and fighter planes, simulating a blockade of the island.

The Chinese military “continues to train and prepare for war, resolutely uphold national sovereignty and territorial integrity, and resolutely crush any form of ‘Taiwan independence’ separatism and attempts at foreign interference,” said Wu Qian, spokesman for the Ministry of Chinese defense.

“Evil Neighbor”

The Taiwanese government accuses Beijing of using Pelosi’s visit as an excuse to launch the exercises that would allow him to rehearse an invasion. In response, the United States reaffirmed its commitment to the region.

The new drills constitute “a solemn deterrence against the United States and Taiwan for continuing to play political tricks and undermining peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait,” Shi Yi, spokesman for the Chinese military’s Eastern Theater Command, said in a statement.

“We shouldn’t be afraid to do anything, afraid to let visitors come and afraid to let our friends come, just because we have an evil neighbor next door,” said Taiwanese Prime Minister Su Tseng-chang.

The US parliamentarians – a senator and four representatives, Democrats and Republicans – also met with Taiwanese Foreign Minister Joseph Wu.

Authoritarian China cannot dictate how democratic Taiwan makes friends, wins support, remains resilient and shines as a beacon of freedom,” Joseph Wu said in a tweet.

China estimates that Taiwan, with a population of about 23 million inhabitants, is one of its provinces, which has not yet been reunited with the rest of its territory since the end of the Chinese civil war (1949).

Opposing any initiative that gives the Taiwanese authorities international legitimacy, Beijing is against any official contact between Taiwan and other countries.

US officials frequently visit the island, but China viewed the visit by Mrs. Pelosi, the highest-ranking US official to visit the island in decades, as a major provocation.

Faced with the maneuvers launched by Beijing in retaliation, Taiwan organized its own exercises simulating the organization of its defense against a Chinese invasion.

Beijing did not end its exercises until after it had reiterated its threats against Taipei and declared that it would continue to patrol the Taiwan Strait.

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