China launches military drills around Taiwan as US lawmakers visit island

China says drills are 'necessary action,' US senator urges Beijing to 'choose wisely' before acting against Taipei.

China launches military drills around Taiwan as US lawmakers visit island

China carried out military exercises around Taiwan on Friday as a delegation of US lawmakers reached the island for a visit that Beijing termed a “deliberate provocative action.”

The Chinese military’s Eastern Theater Command said it sent destroyers, frigates, bombers and fighter jets for drills “in the East China Sea and waters and airspace surrounding Taiwan.”

“The misbehavior and tricks of the US side are very dangerous and will only end in vain; playing with fire will only get oneself burnt,” it said in a statement.

China’s Defense Ministry said the drills are “necessary action taken in light of the current security situation in the Taiwan Strait and the need to safeguard China's national sovereignty.”

It said the “deliberate provocative action … seriously violates the One China principle and the stipulations of the three China-US joint communiques, severely undermines the political foundation of China-US relations, and escalates the tension across the Taiwan Strait.”

“It is extremely hypocritical and untrustworthy for the US to pledge not to support ‘Taiwan independence’ on the one hand and send a serious wrong signal to the ‘Taiwan independence’ secessionist forces on the other,” said ministry spokesman Sr. Col. Wu Qian.

China’s Foreign Ministry, in a separate statement, said Beijing “opposes official exchanges between the US and the island of Taiwan in any form.”

While China sees Taiwan as its “breakaway province,” Taipei has been insisting on its independence since 1949.

The US formally recognized China in 1979 and shifted diplomatic relations from Taipei to Beijing, including Taiwan as part of mainland China.

The military drills around Taiwan are “a countermeasure toward recent US moves, including visits by US lawmakers,” state-run Global Times quoted Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian as saying.

A six-member US Congressional delegation led by Republican Senator Lindsey Graham arrived in Taiwan on Thursday, defying previous threats from Beijing of “forceful measures” in response.

At a press conference on Friday, Graham warned China that the US will keep “every option on the table” in case of an attack on Taiwan, local news outlet Taiwan News reported.

“To abandon Taiwan is to give in to the rule of gun versus the rule of law. To the Chinese Communist Party: we do not seek conflict, but we will fight for our values. Choose wisely,” he was quoted as saying.

Apart from increased frequency of visits by US lawmakers and officials, Washington has also ramped up efforts to arm Taiwan, approving the third weapons deal under the Biden administration earlier this month.

Hüseyin Demir

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