China announced more military drills around Taiwan as the self-governing island’s president met with members of a new U.S. congressional delegation on Monday, threatening to spark tensions between Beijing and Washington just days after a similar visit by U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi angered China.
Pelosi was the highest-level member of the U.S. government to visit Taiwan in two and a half decades, and her trip prompted nearly two weeks of threatening military exercises by China, which claims the island as its own. In those previous drills, Beijing fired missiles over the island and into the Taiwan Strait and blasted warplanes and navy ships across the waterway’s midline, which has long been a buffer between the sides that split amid civil war in 1949.
China accuses the U.S. of encouraging the island’s independence through the sale of weapons and engagement between U.S. politicians and the island’s government. Washington says it does not support independence, has no formal diplomatic ties with the island and maintains that the two sides should settle their dispute peacefully — but it is legally bound to ensure the island can defend itself against any attack.
“China will take resolute and strong measures to defend national sovereignty and territorial integrity,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin announced during a daily briefing Monday, after Beijing announced new drills in the seas and skies surrounding Taiwan. “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.”
The new exercises were intended to be “resolute response and solemn deterrent against collusion and provocation between the U.S. and Taiwan,” the Defense Ministry said earlier.
It was not clear whether the new drills had already started since the ministry gave no details about where and when they would be conducted, in contrast to previous rounds. The U.S. lawmakers, led by Democratic Sen. Ed Markey of Massachusetts, met with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen, Foreign Minister Joseph Wu and legislators among others, according to the American Institute in Taiwan, Washington’s de-facto embassy on the island. The delegation “had an opportunity to exchange views with Taiwan counterparts on a wide range of matters of importance to both the United States and Taiwan,” said the institute issuing a statement.