China conducts fresh drills around Taiwan as US lawmakers visit

China said Monday it had organized fresh military drills around Taiwan, as a delegation of visiting United States lawmakers were set to meet the island’s leader just weeks after a similar trip by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi heightened fears of conflict.

The unannounced two-day trip came after Beijing sent warships, missiles and jets into the waters and skies around Taiwan, a self-ruled democracy that China’s leaders claim and have vowed to one day seize.

Their visit will focus on trade, regional security and climate change, Washington’s de facto embassy in Taipei said.

“This is a solemn deterrent against the US and Taiwan for continuing to play political tricks and undermining peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait,” Shi Yi, spokesman for the Chinese military’s Eastern Theater Command, said in a statement, promising to “resolutely defend national sovereignty”.

China’s communist party has never ruled Taiwan but says it will use force if necessary to take the island.

That decades-old threat was reiterated in a white paper published last week when China’s Taiwan Affairs Office said it would “not renounce the use of force” against its neighbor and reserved “the option of taking all necessary measures”.

Taipei has remained defiant throughout the standoff with Beijing, with a ruling party lawmaker telling AFP this week’s congressional visit proved the island had not been cowed by China’s threats.

“At the same time it also demonstrates and sends an important message — that the people of the United States stand by Taiwan.”

Congress is constitutionally an equal branch of government in the United States, with lawmakers free to travel where they wish, and Taiwan enjoys bipartisan backing in divided Washington.

But it remains a key ally of Taiwan and maintains de facto diplomatic relations with Taipei.

It remains deliberately ambiguous about whether it would militarily come to Taiwan’s aid if China invaded.

But the frequency and profile of US visits has increased both under former President Donald Trump and Biden.

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Originally published as China conducts fresh drills around Taiwan as US lawmakers visit

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