China holds military exercises as US lawmakers visit Taiwan | Politics news
China holds military exercises as US lawmakers visit Taiwan |  Politics news

China holds military exercises as US lawmakers visit Taiwan | Politics news

In the midst of ongoing tensions with Washington, Beijing criticizes US lawmakers’ visit to Taipei as’ deliberately provocative ‘.

China has said it held military exercises around Taiwan when a group of U.S. lawmakers visited the autonomous island in a show of support that Beijing called “deliberately provocative.”

The Chinese military sent frigates, bombers and fighter jets the East China Sea and the area around Taiwan, the People’s Liberation Army Eastern Theater Command said Friday in a statement released as U.S. lawmakers held a news conference in Taipei.

“This operation is in response to the recent frequent release of false signals from the United States on the Taiwan issue,” it said without mentioning the visiting U.S. delegation.

“America’s bad actions and tricks are completely futile and very dangerous. Those who play with fire will burn themselves,” it said.

In a separate statement, China’s Defense Ministry said the US visit was “deliberately provocative” and had “led to further escalation of tensions in the Taiwan Strait”.

Six U.S. lawmakersincluding Republican Senator Lindsey Graham and Democratic Senator Bob Menendez, who chairs the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, met with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen on Friday morning.

The previously unannounced, two-day visit came as tensions between Beijing and Washington has risen over China’s stance on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

China has taken a neutral public attitude since the war broke out in late February, urging nations to support efforts to reach a solution to the conflict, while resisting pressure from Washington and its allies in Europe to condemn Russia.

It has US President Joe Biden warned his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping on the “consequences” if China provides any support to Russia in its invasion, and senior members of the Biden administration have called on Beijing to exert pressure in Moscow to end the war.

But Taiwan has long been among several points of contention between the United States and China, which claim autonomous Taiwan as part of its territory and oppose any official exchange between the Taiwanese government and other foreign governments.

During a video call with Biden in March, Xi told the US President that the Taiwan issue should be “handled properly” in order to avoid having a negative effect on relations between the two countries.

“Some individuals in the United States are sending the wrong signals to pro-independence forces in Taiwan, and that is very dangerous,” Xi told Biden, as reported by Chinese state media at the time.

Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen poses for a group photo with U.S. Senators Lindsey Graham, Bob Menendez and other U.S. delegations [Taiwan Presidential Office/Handout via Reuters]

On Friday, Graham Taiwan’s president said during the delegation’s meeting with her that the war in Ukraine and provocative behavior on the part of China have united American opinion in a way never seen before.

“To give up Taiwan would be to give up democracy and freedom,” he said. “A counter-reaction is growing in the world to thugs – to the bad guys.”

Menendez acknowledged that the Chinese government was “very dissatisfied” with the delegation’s trip, but said it would not deter the group from supporting Taiwan.

“With Taiwan producing 90 percent of the world’s advanced semiconductor products, it is a country of global significance, consistency and impact, and therefore it should be understood that Taiwan’s security has a global impact,” Menendez told Tsai.

For her part, the Taiwanese leader said she welcomed the visit of US lawmakers and hoped it would help further deepen US-Taiwan cooperation.

“Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has proven that democracies need to strengthen their alliances, and together we can defend ourselves against the threats of authoritarian nations seeking to disrupt regional peace,” she said.

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