Five days after announcing the end of some military drills around Taiwan, China’s armed forces resumed exercise on Monday after a US delegation of lawmakers arrived on the island Sunday for a two-day visit.
The People’s Liberation Army (PLA) confirmed on Monday that it organized joint combat-readiness security patrols and combat training exercises in the waters and airspace around Taiwan to stop Washington and Taipei from continuing their “political tricks.” Wu Qian, a spokesperson for the Chinese Ministry of Defense, said Monday that the exercises were a “solemn deterrent against the collusion and provocations of the US and the Taiwan authorities.”
The Taiwanese Ministry of Defense reported that 15 Chinese military aircraft crossed the median dividing line on Monday. The median line in the narrow strait between the island of Taiwan and mainland China is an unofficial line of control that military aircraft and battleships from either side normally do not cross. The unofficial border had been tacitly respected until the recent escalation of tensions following the visit of US Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi.
On Sunday, another US delegation led by Massachusetts Democratic Senator Ed Markey, and made up of three Democratic House members and one Republican, visited Taiwan as part of a broader tour to the Indo-Pacific region, as reported by the American Institute in Taiwan, the de facto Embassy of the United States on the island. This visit, however, has been more low-profile than Pelosi’s trip.
The delegation met with the Taiwanese president, Tsai Ing-wen, on Monday behind closed doors. No photos of the meeting were shared on social networks. According to sources quoted by the South China Morning Post, Tsai thanked lawmakers for their visit, which she considered a sign of US’s support in the face of growing threats from Beijing.
The group of US representatives also met with Taiwanese Foreign Minister Joseph Wu and members of the legislature to discuss issues related to security and economic relations. “In all the meetings, the delegation had the opportunity to exchange opinions on issues of importance to the United States and Taiwan,” reported the American Institute in Taiwan, Washington’s representation on the island.
“Full of thanks for the bicameral & bipartisan US congressional delegation led by Senator Markey for their visit. Authoritarian China can’t dictate how democratic Taiwan makes friends, wins support, stays resilient & shines like a beacon of freedom,” the Taiwanese Foreign Ministry said in a message on Twitter.
Senator Markey, for his part, said on Twitter that the purpose of the visit was “to reaffirm US support for Taiwan and encourage stability and peace across the Taiwan Strait.”
“It was her right to go”
The delegation’s visit comes just 12 days after the speaker of the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, traveled to the island, despite warnings from the White House and Beijing. Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan infuriated China, which regards the self-ruled island as its own. According to the state-owned Chinese newspaper Global Times, Pelosi’s visit was a “blatant provocation.” In response to the visit, China announced sanctions against Pelosi and her immediate family, and said that it was canceling or suspending dialogue with the US on a number of issues, ranging from military relations to climate change.
Following Pelosi’s visit, China also released its first white paper on the island in 22 years, drawing far more red lines than previous publications from 1993 and 2000. The document does not rule out the use of force to achieve reunification. The Chinese government also canceled high-level military meetings with the United States, and suspended dialogue with the US on a number of issues ranging from military relations to climate change.
Pelosi visited Taiwan against the advice of the White House, but US President Joe Biden has been careful not to criticize her, saying simply that she had the right to go. When asked about Pelosi’s visit, Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre, insisted on that the speaker of the House was following White House rules. “Speaker Pelosi makes her own decisions, as other members of Congress do, about their overseas travel,” she said. “We’re going to reiterate this: It was her right to go. There was precedence for this. As we know, Newt Gingrich, when he was speaker, went a generation ago. And again, it does not change our policy, our One China policy. It does not change any of that.”
Under the One China policy, the United States does not legally recognize Taiwan’s independence, but promotes peaceful dialogue to resolve differences. Washington announced on Friday that it will strengthen its trade relations with Taiwan and will continue to use air and sea routes across the Taiwan Strait.
China has overreacted, and its actions continue to be provocative, destabilizing, and unprecedented,” said Kurt Campbell, deputy assistant to the president. “China’s actions are fundamentally at odds with the goal of peace and stability. They are part of an intensified pressure campaign against Taiwan, which has not ended, and we expect it to continue to unfold in the coming weeks and months. The goal of this campaign is clear: to intimidate and coerce Taiwan and undermine its resilience.”