BEIJING: China staged fresh military drills around Taiwan on Monday, slamming a new visit by United States lawmakers to the island days after a similar trip by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi triggered a furious response from Beijing.
The unannounced two-day trip by senior members of Congress prompted China to renew its rhetoric that it would “prepare for war” over Taiwan, a self-ruled democracy that Beijing’s leaders claim and have vowed to one day seize.
The five-member congressional delegation — led by Senator Ed Markey of Massachusetts — met with President Tsai Ing-wen on Monday, according to Washington’s de facto embassy in Taipei.
“The delegation had an opportunity to exchange views with Taiwan counterparts on a wide range of issues of importance to both the United States and Taiwan,” it said.
The bipartisan trip sparked another bellicose response from Beijing, which said it had carried out a fresh round of “combat readiness patrol and combat drills in the sea and airspace around Taiwan island” on Monday.
“The Chinese People’s Liberation Army continues to train and prepare for war, resolutely defend national sovereignty and territorial integrity, and resolutely crush any form of ‘Taiwan independence separatism and foreign interference attempts,” Wu Qian, a spokesman for China’s Defense Ministry, said.
“We warn the US and the DPP authorities: ‘Using Taiwan to contain China’ is doomed to failure,” he added, referring to Taiwan’s ruling Democratic Progressive Party.
Monday’s drills followed days of huge exercises around Taiwan in the wake of Pelosi’s visit which saw Beijing send warships, missiles and jets into the waters and skies near the island.
Taipei condemned those drills and missile tests as preparation for an invasion.
China’s Communist Party has never ruled Taiwan but says it will use force if necessary to take the island and bristles at any perceived treatment of it as a sovereign nation state.