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China Announces New Drills Amid US Representatives Visiting Taiwan

Courtesy of Medill DC (Flickr CC0)

As Taiwan’s president met with members of a new congressional delegation on Monday, China announced further military exercises nearby. Thus threatening to escalate already tense relations between Beijing and Washington after U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s recent trip to Taiwan infuriated China.

Although the delegation was seen arriving for the meetings in Taiwanese media, the specifics were not immediately made public. On a government plane from the United States, the delegation was scheduled to fly off later on Monday.

Pelosi was the highest-ranking official from the United States to visit Taiwan in 25 years. Her arrival sparked nearly two weeks of ominous military drills by China, which asserts sovereignty over the island. Beijing conducted such drills by firing missiles into the Taiwan Strait, over the island, and into the middle of the waterway, which has long served as a buffer between the two sides since their separation during the 1949 civil war. Beijing also dispatched bombers and military ships across the waterway.

China claims that the U.S. has supported the island’s independence by selling its weaponry and fostering relations between American officials and the island’s leadership. Washington insists that the two sides should settle their conflict amicably, that it does not favor independence, and that there are no official diplomatic relations with the island. However, Washington is constitutionally required to make sure the island can defend itself in the event of an assault.

After Beijing announced military drills in the waters and airspace surrounding Taiwan, Wang Wenbin, a spokesman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry, said during a regular briefing Monday, “China will take resolute and strong measures to defend national sovereignty and territorial integrity” “A handful of U.S. 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.”

Although China claims it wishes to annex Taiwan peacefully, recent saber-rattling has highlighted the threat of using military force to do so. The earlier exercises seemed to be intended as a practice for a blockade or attack on Taiwan, forcing the cancellation of commercial flights and causing shipping to Taiwan’s major ports as well as cargo traveling through the Taiwan Strait, one of the busiest shipping lanes in the world, to be disrupted.

Courtesy of Gage Skidmore (Flickr CC0)

Following Pelosi’s visit, China reportedly upped its pressure campaign against Taiwan, endangering regional peace and stability, according to a senior White House official on Asia policy who made the claim last week.

Security analysts and diplomats fear that China’s shutting of some of its few communication lines with the American military may increase the possibility of an unintentional escalation over Taiwan at a crucial time but while in the midst of the tensions last week, one American official noticed that Chinese officials had not returned calls from senior Pentagon officials, but they did not see this as a formal cutting of connections with senior leaders like U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin.

The Communist Party in power in China has long stated that while it prefers a peaceful union with its country, the force will not be ruled out in a pinch. The two broke apart in 1949 as a result of a civil war in which the Communists seized power in China and the Nationalists who were on the losing side fled to Taiwan.

Speaking on Friday, Campbell said that the United States would send warships and aircraft through the Taiwan Strait in the next weeks. Campbell also stated that the United States is creating a schedule for trade negotiations with Taiwan, which it plans to reveal in the coming days.

Written by Dylan Santoyo
Edited by Sheena Robertson


AP NEWS: China announces new drills as US delegation visits Taiwan

NPR: China announces new drills around Taiwan as a U.S. delegation visits the island

CNBC: China announces fresh military drills around Taiwan

Top and Featured Image Courtesy of Medill DCs Flickr Page – Creative Commons License

Inset Image Courtesy of Gage Skidmore‘s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License

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