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China: New Drills Amid US Taiwan Visit 08/15 06:08

   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 renew tensions between Beijing and Washington just days 
after a similar visit by U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi angered China.

   TAIPEI, Taiwan (AP) -- 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 renew 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 25 years, and her trip prompted nearly two weeks of threatening military 
exercises by China, which claims the island as its own. Beijing fired missiles 
over the island and into the Taiwan Strait and sent 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 
said at 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 if 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, 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 issues of importance to both 
the United States and Taiwan," the institute said in a statement.

   China says it wants to use peaceful means to bring Taiwan under its control, 
but its recent saber rattling has emphasized its threat to take the island by 
military force. The earlier drills appeared to be a rehearsal of a blockade or 
attack on Taiwan that would force the cancellation of commercial flights and 
disrupt shipping to Taiwan's main ports as well as cargo passing through the 
Taiwan Strait, one of the world's busiest shipping lanes.

   The exercises prompted Taiwan to put its military on alert, but were met 
largely with defiance or apathy among the public used to living in China's 
shadow.

   The American "visit at this time is of great significance, because the 
Chinese military exercise is (intended) to deter U.S. congressmen from visiting 
Taiwan," Lo Chih-cheng, the chair of the Taiwan legislature's Foreign and 
National Defense Committee, said after meeting with the U.S. lawmakers.

   "Their visit this time proves that China cannot stop politicians from any 
country to visit Taiwan, and it also conveys an important message that the 
American people stand with the Taiwanese people," Lo said.

   A senior White House official on Asia policy said last week that China had 
used Pelosi's visit as a pretext to launch an intensified pressure campaign 
against Taiwan, jeopardizing peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait and 
in the broader region.

   "China has overreacted, and its actions continue to be provocative, 
destabilizing, and unprecedented," Kurt Campbell, a deputy assistant to U.S. 
President Joe Biden, said on a call with reporters on Friday.

   Campbell said the U.S. would send warships and planes through the Taiwan 
Strait in the next few weeks and is developing a roadmap for trade talks with 
Taiwan that he said the U.S. intends to announce in the coming days.

   Beyond the geopolitical risks of rising tensions between two world powers, 
an extended crisis in the Taiwan Strait could have major implications for 
international supply chains at a time when the world is already facing 
disruptions and uncertainty in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic and the war 
in Ukraine. In particular, Taiwan is a crucial provider of computer chips for 
the global economy, including China's high-tech sectors.

   This week's five-member congressional delegation planned to meet with both 
government and private sector representatives. Investment in Taiwan's crucial 
semiconductor industry and reducing tensions in the Taiwan Strait were expected 
to be key topics of discussion.

   The other members of the delegation are Republican Rep. Aumua Amata Coleman 
Radewagen, a delegate from American Samoa, and Democrats John Garamendi and 
Alan Lowenthal from California and Don Beyer from Virginia.

 
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