China Stages Military Exercises as US Lawmakers Visit Taiwan

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China’s military conducted drills on Friday to reaffirm its threat to use force to annex Taiwan, as US legislators visiting Taiwan made a public statement of support for the self-governing island democracy while delivering a warning to China.

On Friday morning, the six MPs met with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen and were also set to meet with the island’s defense minister.

The military drills conducted by the People’s Liberation Army’s Eastern Theater Command in areas adjacent to Taiwan were “a countermeasure to the United States’ recent negative actions, including the visit of a delegation of lawmakers to Taiwan,” according to Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian.

Because China says Taiwan is part of its national territory and not an independent country, it opposes any official contacts between Taiwan’s government and other international governments. After a civil war in 1949, China and Taiwan separated.

The drills were defined as “a necessary step based on the current security situation in the Taiwan Strait and the necessity to preserve national sovereignty” by the Eastern Theater Command in a statement.

“Taiwan is a sacred and inalienable part of Chinese territory,” the statement read, adding that “there is no tolerance for foreign involvement in the Taiwan problem.”

Sen. Robert Menendez of New Jersey gave a speech Friday as part of a delegation of visiting US lawmakers praising Taiwan’s democracy and global status as a manufacturer of semi-conductor chips used in everything from cars to smartphones, and warning of the consequences if that status were jeopardized.

Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina leads a group that includes Senators Richard Burr of North Carolina, Robert Portman of Ohio, Ben Sasse of Nebraska, and Ronny Jackson of Texas.

Tsai expressed her gratitude for their visit and expressed the hope that it will assist to improve US-Taiwan relations.

The United States is Taiwan’s most important unofficial ally, and it has increased weaponry deliveries to the island in recent years. By law, the United States is obligated to assist Taiwan with defense armaments. The issue of whether the US would intervene if China launched a military invasion remains unanswered.

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