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China defends recent drills near Taipei

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
China's naval forces conduct military drills near the Taiwan Strait. (File photo)

China says recent military drills near Chinese Taipei were a "just" move aimed at protecting the country's sovereignty and integrity against Taipei's "collusion" with foreign forces.

China carried out beach landing and assault drills in the province directly across the sea from Chinese Taipei on Monday, one week after former Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott paid a visit to Taipei.

Beijing considers Chinese Taipei a breakaway province that should be reunited with the mainland. It also opposes other countries pursuing ties with the self-ruled island and has consistently warned against engagement with Taipei.

On Tuesday, spokesman for China's Taiwan Affairs Office, Ma Xiaoguang, said the cause of the current tensions was Taipei's ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP)'s "collusion" with foreign forces and "provocations."

"They are absolutely just actions," Ma said, referring to the drills, adding that Taipei's "hyping of the so-called 'military threat' of the mainland is to completely invert right and wrong, and a bogus accusation."

Ma warned that Taipei's defiant authorities were pushing the island "into a more dangerous situation" as they "obstinately persist in going about things the wrong way."

Over the weekend, president of Chinese Taipei Tsai Ing-wen vowed to bolster the island's military capabilities in the face of what she called China's attempt to "compromise its sovereignty." She said Taipei would not let down its guard against Beijing.

Her remarks came a day after Chinese President Xi Jinping warned against Taipei's "independence separatism."

The US, too, recognizes Chinese sovereignty over Taipei but has long courted the island in an apparent attempt to unnerve Beijing.

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