China says a visit of Chinese Taipei (Taiwan) by a group of American legislators has fully exposed Washington’s true face as the spoiler of peace in the strategically-sensitive Taiwan Strait.
A US congressional delegation, led by Senator Ed Markey of Massachusetts, arrived in Taipei on Sunday and met with the island’s secessionist President Tsai Ing-wen on an unannounced two-day visit amid tensions between Beijing and Washington over a recent controversial visit by US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to the self-ruled island.
The controversial trip by Pelosi, who is third in the line of succession to the presidency and a long-time critic of China, prompted Beijing to react with an unprecedented burst of military activity in the island’s surrounding waters that lasted for several days, and further deteriorated the already strained Sino-US relations.
In a statement on Monday, China’s Defense Ministry said that the US lawmakers’ trip on Sunday infringed China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and “fully exposes the true face of the United States as a spoiler and spoiler of peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait.”
“The Chinese People's Liberation Army continues to train and prepare for war, resolutely defends national sovereignty and territorial integrity, and will resolutely crush any form of ‘Taiwan independence’ separatism and foreign interference,” the statement read.
Under the internationally-recognized “one-China” policy, nearly all countries recognize Beijing’s sovereignty over Taiwan, including the United States. However, in violation of its own stated policy and in an attempt to irritate Beijing, Washington continues to court the secessionist government in Taipei, supporting its anti-China stance and supplying it with massive caches of armament.
China has time and again said that Taiwan, viewed by Beijing as a breakaway province, must be reunified with the mainland, even by force. In its latest white paper on the self-ruled island issued earlier this month, China once again stressed that taking Taipei by force was still an option.
“We will not renounce the use of force, and we reserve the option of taking all necessary measures. This is to guard against external interference and all separatist activities,” the August 10 document said.
In a separate statement on Monday, China’s Defense Ministry said it had carried out more exercises near Taiwan, specifically near Taiwan's Penghu islands, which are in the Taiwan Strait and are home to a major air base.
According to the Chinese military unit responsible for the area adjacent to Taiwan, the People’s Liberation Army’s Eastern Theatre Command, the military had organized multi-service joint combat readiness patrols and combat drills in the sea and airspace around Chinese Taipei earlier in the day.
The drills were “a stern deterrent to the United States and Taiwan continuing to play political tricks and undermine peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait,” it added.
Taiwan also conducted its own military drills in the wake of Pelosi’s visit on August 2.
During a meeting with US lawmakers, Tsai claimed that China’s military exercises had greatly affected regional peace and stability.
“We are engaging in close cooperation with international allies to closely monitor the military situation. At the same time we are doing everything we can to let the world know that Taiwan is determined to safeguard stability and the status quo in the Taiwan Strait,” Taiwan’s president said in video footage provided by the island’s presidential office.
The US congressional delegation left Taiwan late on Monday afternoon, and only after then did the presidential office release footage of the meeting with Tsai.
Taiwan’s military said in a statement that during China’s drills on Monday, 15 Chinese aircraft had crossed the median line of the Taiwan Strait, which separates the self-ruled Chinese Taipei from mainland China and straddles vital shipping lanes.
It also lambasted Beijing’s new drills, saying that Taipei would “calmly” face them.
Early this month, China’s customs agency said in a notice it had blacklisted over 100 Taiwanese food brands for failing to renew their export registration, just two days prior to Pelosi’s visit.
China is Chinese Taipei’s largest trade partner, with the island’s exports to mainland China and Hong Kong reaching $188.9 billion last year.
The administration of US President Joe Biden says it does not support independence for Taiwan or changes to the status quo, but Washington says Pelosi has the right to visit the island.
Biden has by and large continued the policies of his predecessor, former President Donald Trump, vis-à-vis China. But he has sought to stabilize ties with Beijing through regular conversations with his counterpart Xi Jinping.
Pelosi’s visit, however, prompting infuriated China to respond with test launches of ballistic missiles over Taipei for the first time, and cutting some lines of dialog with Washington, including theatre military talks and on climate change.