China’s armed forces have held combat drills in the seas and skies around Taiwan in response to “collusion” between Washington and Taipei, a military spokesman said Wednesday.
The People’s Liberation Army’s Eastern Theater Command said it had conducted a ‘joint forces combat readiness patrol’ in recent days, but did not give a specific timetable for the sharp training drills. . On Monday, Taiwan said it dispatched fighter jets to intercept at least 30 Chinese warplanes entering its air defense zone.
The statement comes a week after President Joe Biden told a press conference in Tokyo that the United States would intervene militarily if China were to invade Taiwan, an island the Chinese Communist Party has never ruled but which, according to him, is part of his territory. The Chinese military announcement also coincides with Illinois Senator Tammy Duckworth’s visit to Taipei.
The combat drills were “a necessary action against US-Taiwanese collusion”, according to the command statement. “Recently, the United States has frequently taken action on the Taiwan issue, saying one thing while doing another, openly and covertly encouraging and supporting Taiwan independence forces. [The U.S.] will push Taiwan into a dangerous situation and will itself suffer serious consequences.”
Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen said the island democracy is already a functionally independent country. His government has been tracking an increasing number of Chinese military aircraft flights around the island over the past two years. Taiwan says it does not seek conflict, but will fight to defend its freedoms.
In a much-anticipated speech on China policy last week, Secretary of State Antony Blinken reiterated the official position that the United States does not support Taiwan independence. To maintain peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait, the United States will continue to assist Taipei in maintaining its self-defense capability in accordance with the Taiwan Relations Act (TRA), he said. .
“And, as set forth in the TRA, to maintain our ability to resist any use of force or other forms of coercion that would jeopardize Taiwan’s security or social or economic system,” the secretary said.
Biden’s pledge to defend Taiwan was a rare statement from the US executive, whose otherwise cautious messages are also governed by State Department guidelines. With respect to the legislative branch, however, the frequent and unambiguous statements in favor of Taiwan’s defense leave little doubt as to where Congress stands on the matter.
About six hours after more than two dozen Chinese fighter jets flew through Taiwan’s airspace, Senator Duckworth of Illinois landed in Taipei for a surprise three-day visit. The combat veteran was last in Taiwan a year ago this month.
In a televised meeting with the Taiwanese president, the senator underscored broad US support for the island’s security and the US-Taiwanese economic partnership.
Duckworth noted “considerable support for Taiwan” within Congress. “Our president has shown his support for Taiwan. You heard our military, and as a member of the legislature, I will tell you that this is a bipartisan agreement that the United States should stand with Taiwan” , she said.
China generally opposes all interactions between the United States and Taiwan. The Chinese Embassy in Washington and the Foreign Ministry in Beijing said they had “deposited solemn representations” to their American counterparts.
“Taiwan is a province of China. Which president is she talking about?” Zhao Lijian, spokesperson for the Foreign Ministry, told reporters at a regular press briefing on Tuesday.
Duckworth’s office did not respond to a request for comment.