Lawmakers’ visit sparks new drills

BEIJING (AFP) — China said Monday it had organized fresh military drills around Taiwan, as a delegation of visiting United States lawmakers were set to meet the island’s leader just weeks after a similar trip by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi heightened fears of conflict.

Beijing said it had carried out “combat readiness patrol and combat drills in the sea and airspace around Taiwan island.”

The unannounced two -day trip came after Beijing sent warships, missiles and jets into the waters and skies around Taiwan, a self-ruled democracy that China’s leaders claim and have vowed to one day seize.

The five-member congressional delegation — led by Senator Ed Markey of Massachusetts — was due to hold a meeting with President Tsai Ing-wen on Monday followed by a banquet at the foreign ministry.

Their visit will focus on trade, regional security and climate change, Washington’s de facto embassy in Taipei said.

“This is a solemn deterrent against the US and Taiwan for continuing to play political tricks and undermining peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait,” Shi Yi, spokesperson for the Chinese military’s Eastern Theater Command, said in a statement, promising to “resolutely defend national sovereignty.”

Taiwan’s government has accused Beijing of using Pelosi’s visit as an excuse to kickstart drills that would allow it to rehearse for an invasion.

China’s communist party has never ruled Taiwan but says it will use force if necessary to take the island.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *