China conducts major military drills near Taiwan and issues stark warning as US delegation visits

China’s calls US delegates’ visit a deliberate provocation

(Related) China fears: Taiwan considers extending army conscription

China conducted military drills around Taiwan on Friday and expressed its outrage as a delegation from the US Congress visited the island.

China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) dispatched forces including destroyers, frigates, bombers and fighters to the region, and conducted joint combat alert patrols and drills including maritime assault, in the forefront of the East China Sea and in waters and aerial territory around Taiwan, reported China’s state-run Global Times newspaper.

In a statement Senior Colonel Shi Yi, spokesperson for the PLA’s Eastern Theatre Command, said that the operation was a direct response to the US’s recent “wrong signals” on the matter of Taiwan — a self-governed island that China sees as a breakaway province.

“Those who play with fire will burn themselves. The command troops always maintain high alert and will firmly safeguard national sovereignty and security and regional peace and stability,” he said.

China’s defence ministry said in a press release that the US delegates’ visit was a deliberate provocation.

Spokesperson Wu Qian said the visit severely violated the one-China principle and the regulations of the Three Joint Communiqués between China and the US, damaged China-US ties and caused a further escalation of tensions in the Taiwan Straits.

And Zhao Lijian, China’s foreign ministry spokesperson, also said that Friday’s operation was targeted at the US congressional delegation’s visit to Taiwan.

A group of six US politicians led by senator Bob Menendez, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, visited the island on Friday on a two-day trip to show support for the island’s leadership.

Mr Mendez acknowledged that China was “very unhappy” with the delegation’s visit.

“With Taiwan producing 90 per cent of the world’s high-end semiconductor products, it is a country of global significance, consequence and impact, and therefore it should be understood the security of Taiwan has a global impact,” he was quoted as saying in a meeting with president Tai Ing-Wen that was broadcast online.

Republican US senator Lindsey Graham told Taiwan’s president during the meeting that the war in Ukraine and provocative behavior by China have united US opinion.

“We will stand with you. To abandon Taiwan will be to abandon democracy and freedom,” he said.

The US does not have formal ties with Taiwan due to its relations with China, but it does supply the island with arms under the Taiwan Relations Act and maintains a deliberately ambiguous policy that states it will help defend Taiwan in the face of Chinese aggression.

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