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TAIWAN

China announces new drills as US delegation visits

Published:Tuesday | August 16, 2022 | 12:08 AM
In this photo released by the Taiwan Presidential Office, Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen poses for photos with US Congress members and other Taiwan officials during a meeting at the Presidential Office in Taipei, Taiwan, on Monday, August 15.
In this photo released by the Taiwan Presidential Office, Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen poses for photos with US Congress members and other Taiwan officials during a meeting at the Presidential Office in Taipei, Taiwan, on Monday, August 15.

TAIPEI (AP):

China announced more military drills around Taiwan as the self-governing island’s president met with members of a new US congressional delegation on Monday, threatening to renew tensions between Beijing and Washington after a similar recent visit by US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi angered China.

Pelosi was the highest-level member of the US government to visit Taiwan in 25 years, and her trip prompted nearly two weeks of threatening military exercises by China, which claims the island as its own. In those drills, Beijing fired missiles over the island and into the Taiwan Strait, and sent warplanes and navy ships across the waterway’s midline, which has long been a buffer between the sides that split amid civil war in 1949.

China accuses the US of encouraging the island’s independence through the sale of weapons and engagement between US politicians and the island’s government. Washington says it does not support independence, has no formal diplomatic ties with the island, and maintains that the two sides should settle their dispute peacefully – but it is legally bound to ensure the island can defend itself against any attack.

American and Taiwanese officials have accused China of using Pelosi’s visit as a pretext for intimidating moves, and a senior US official said recently that Washington would continue to deepen its ties with Taiwan in the coming days and weeks.

The latest trip began on Sunday with little notice ahead of time – and drew more ire from China. The delegation was due to leave late Monday.

“China will take resolute and strong measures to defend national sovereignty and territorial integrity,” Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said at a daily briefing on Monday, after Beijing announced new drills in the seas and skies surrounding Taiwan. “A handful of US politicians, in collusion with the separatist forces of Taiwan independence, are trying to challenge the ‘One China’ principle, which is out of their depth and doomed to failure.”

The new exercises were intended to be “resolute response and solemn deterrent against collusion and provocation between the US and Taiwan,” the defence ministry said earlier.

It was not clear if the new drills had already started, since the ministry gave no details about where and when they would be conducted, in contrast to previous rounds.

The US lawmakers, led by Democratic Sen Ed Markey of Massachusetts, met with President Tsai Ing-wen, Foreign Minister Joseph Wu and legislators, according to the American Institute in Taiwan, Washington’s de facto embassy on the island.

At their meeting, Tsai said her administration was working with allies to ensure stability in the Taiwan Strait and maintain the status quo – a reference to the island’s self-governance, separate from Beijing.

“Russia’s invasion of Ukraine earlier this year has shown the threat that authoritarian nations pose to the global order,” Tsai said.