Chinese forces exercise near Taiwan in response to US visit


BEIJING (AP) – Chinese military forces are holding exercises near Taiwan in response to a visit by a US Congressional delegation to the island.

The exercises in the Taiwan Strait area are a “necessary measure to safeguard national sovereignty,” China’s Defense Ministry said on Tuesday in an announcement that gave no details of the timing, participants and location of the events. exercises.

He said the Eastern Theater Command’s “joint war preparedness patrol” was motivated by “the seriously incorrect words and actions of the countries concerned on the Taiwan issue” and the actions of those who advocate it. independence of the autonomous island.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said China sees the delegation’s visit as a “serious violation” of US commitments not to have formal relations with Taiwan, which China claims to be its territory. .

“China strongly opposes it and has made solemn representations to the United States,” Wang said in a daily briefing on Wednesday.

“All risky and provocative actions against China’s reunification are like an ant trying to knock down a giant tree and are doomed to failure,” Wang said.

The United States has a strong but informal relationship with Taiwan, and tensions are mounting between the United States and China over several issues, including Hong Kong, the South China Sea, the coronavirus pandemic, and trade. Details on the US delegation that reportedly arrived in Taiwan on Tuesday were not immediately available.

A statement from the Chinese Defense Ministry by an unidentified spokesperson strongly condemned the visit, saying “no one should underestimate the People’s Liberation Army’s steadfast determination to protect national sovereignty and integrity territoriality of the Chinese people “.

China regards Taiwan as its own territory to be annexed by military force if necessary. The parties separated in 1949 in a civil war, and after a brief period of rapprochement, relations grew increasingly strained under pro-independence Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen.

Over China’s National Day weekend in early October, China sent 149 military planes to southwest Taiwan in attack group formations, forcing Taiwan to jam the planes and activate its missile systems. air defense. Taiwan’s Defense Ministry said this week that such tactics were aimed at weakening the island’s defenses and lowering morale.

In Washington, Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said congressional visits to Taiwan “are relatively routine and consistent with the United States’ obligations under the Taiwan Relations Act,” which requires the United States government to ensures that Taiwan has the capacity to defend itself and considers threats to the island as issues of “serious concern”.

The delegation arrived in Taipei on Tuesday evening aboard a C-40 Clipper plane, which left shortly after, according to the Taiwanese state news agency. Kirby said traveling on a U.S. military aircraft was customary for such delegations.

Taiwanese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Joanne Ou said the ministry had worked with the American Institute in Taiwan, which is the de facto U.S. Embassy, ​​on the arrangements for the visit, but no ‘gave no details. She said more information would be released at the “appropriate time”.

Although the United States transferred diplomatic relations from Taipei to Beijing in 1979, it maintains strong informal political and military ties with Taiwan. As a vibrant democracy, Taiwan also enjoys strong bipartisan support in Congress, and the U.S. government has strengthened relations through high-level visits and military sales.

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