China Announces New Drills Around Taiwan as US Delegation Visits Island 

Photo credit: AP

China has announced more military drills around Taiwan. The announcement comes as Taiwan’s president met with members of a new U.S. congressional delegation today, in a further sign of support among American lawmakers for the self-governing island that China claims to own. 

The delegation arrived for the talks, but details of the meeting have not immediately been released. The delegation is due to depart today. 

The latest visit comes less than two weeks after U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited Taiwan. Pelosi’s visit promoted days of threatening military exercises by China, including the firing of missiles over the island and into the Taiwan Strait. 

Pelosi’s visit marked the highest-level member of the U.S. government to visit the island nation in a quarter of a century. 

China also made threats by sending warplanes and navy ships across the waterway’s median, the long-time buffer zone between the two sides that separated amid a civil war in 1949. 

China sees any formal contact between the U.S. and Taiwan’s governments as support for its independence from Beijing. Today China announced even more drills in the sea and sky. 

The exercises are meant to be a “resolute response and solemn deterrent against collusion and provocation between the U.S. and Taiwan,” China’s Defense Ministry said. 

The two previous weeks of threatening exercises prompted Taiwan to put its military on alert, but they were met largely with defiance and apathy from the public. 

In the Taiwan capital Taipei, the chair of the legislature’s Foreign and National Defense Committee, Lo, Chih-Cheng, met with the U.S. lawmakers and stated that “Their visit at this time is of great significance because the Chinese military exercise is (intended) to deter U.S. congressmen from visiting Taiwan.”

Lo said the visit this time proves China cannot stop politicians from visiting Taiwan, but also furthermore, the visit conveys an important message that the American people stand with the Taiwanese people. 

China says it wants to use peaceful means to bring Taiwan under its control, but its recent saber-rattling has emphasized its threat to take the island by military force. 

The earlier drills appeared to be designed as a rehearsal of a blockade or attack on Taiwan, forcing the cancellation of commercial flights and disrupting shipping to Taiwan’s main ports as well as cargo passing through the Taiwan Strait, one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes.

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