China announces new drills as US delegation visits Taiwan

Taipei, Taiwan –

China announced more military exercises in Taiwan as the autonomous island’s president met with members of a new US congressional delegation on Monday, threatening to renew tensions between Beijing and Washington just days after a similar visit by the president of the United States House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, angered China.

Pelosi was the highest-ranking member of the US government to visit Taiwan in 25 years, and her trip sparked nearly two weeks of threatening military exercises by China, which claims the island as its own. Beijing fired missiles over the island and into the Taiwan Strait and sent warplanes and navy ships through the median line of the waterway, which has long been a buffer between sides that split in the middle of the civil war in 1949.

China accuses the US of encouraging the island’s independence through arms sales and compromise between US politicians and the island’s government. Washington says it does not support independence, has no formal diplomatic ties with the island and maintains the two sides must resolve their dispute peacefully, but is legally bound to ensure the island can defend itself against attack.

“China will take firm and resolute measures to uphold national sovereignty and territorial integrity,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin told a daily briefing on Monday, after Beijing announced new exercises in the seas. and skies surrounding Taiwan. “A handful of US politicians, in cahoots with Taiwan independence separatist forces, are trying to challenge the one-China principle, which is out of their hands and doomed to fail.”

The new exercises were intended to be a “resolute response and solemn deterrent against US-Taiwan collusion and provocation,” the Defense Ministry said earlier.

It was unclear if the new drills had already started, as the ministry did not give details on where and when they would take place, unlike previous rounds.

The US lawmakers, led by Democratic Senator Ed Markey of Massachusetts, met with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen, Foreign Minister Joseph Wu and lawmakers, according to the American Institute in Taiwan, the de facto embassy of Washington on the island. The delegation “had the opportunity to exchange views with their Taiwanese counterparts on a wide range of issues of importance to both the United States and Taiwan,” the institute said in a statement. China says it wants to use peaceful means to control Taiwan. , but his recent saber rattling has emphasized his threat to take the island by military force. Previous drills appeared to be a rehearsal for a blockade or attack on Taiwan that would force the cancellation of commercial flights and disrupt shipping to Taiwan’s major ports, as well as cargo passing through the Taiwan Strait, one of the shipping lanes. busiest in the world.

The exercises prompted Taiwan to put its military on alert, but were met largely with defiance or apathy among the public accustomed to living in China’s shadow.

The “US visit at this time is of great importance, because the Chinese military exercise is (intended) to dissuade US congressmen from visiting Taiwan,” said Lo Chih-cheng, chairman of the legislature’s Foreign and National Defense Committee. from Taiwan, after meeting. with US lawmakers.

“His visit this time shows that China cannot prevent politicians from any country from visiting Taiwan, and also sends an important message that the American people support the Taiwanese people,” Lo said.

A top White House official on Asia policy said last week that China had used Pelosi’s visit as a pretext to launch an intensified pressure campaign against Taiwan, endangering peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait and in the region in general.

“China has overreacted and its actions continue to be provocative, destabilizing and unprecedented,” Kurt Campbell, a deputy aide to US President Joe Biden, said in a call with reporters on Friday.

Campbell said the United States would send warships and aircraft through the Taiwan Strait in the coming weeks and is developing a roadmap for trade talks with Taiwan, which he said the United States intends to announce in the coming days. .

Beyond the geopolitical risks of rising tensions between two world powers, a protracted crisis across the Taiwan Strait could have major implications for international supply chains at a time when the world is already facing disruption and uncertainty in the wake of the pandemic. of coronavirus and the war in Ukraine. In particular, Taiwan is a crucial supplier of computer chips to the global economy, including China’s high-tech sectors.

This week’s five-member congressional delegation planned to meet with government and private sector representatives. Investment in Taiwan’s crucial semiconductor industry and de-escalation of tensions across the Taiwan Strait were expected to be key topics of discussion.

The other members of the delegation are Republican Rep. Aumua Amata Coleman Radewagen, a delegate from American Samoa, and Democrats John Garamendi and Alan Lowenthal of California and Don Beyer of Virginia.

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