The arrival of a new team of senior US politicians in Taiwan late on Sunday prompted China to stage more military exercises on Monday near the self-ruled island, with Beijing denouncing the trip as “an infringement on its sovereignty.”
The five US lawmakers arrived in Taiwan on an unannounced visit late on Sunday, the second high-level group to visit following a visit by US Lower House Speaker Nancy Pelosi nearly two weeks ago, which sparked days of Chinese war games.
The Chinese military unit responsible for the area adjacent to Taiwan, the People’s Liberation Army’s Eastern Theatre Command, said it had organised multi-service joint combat readiness patrols and combat drills in the sea and airspace around Taiwan on Monday.
The Eastern Theatre Command said the exercises were “a stern deterrent to the United States and Taiwan continuing to play political tricks and undermine peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait”.
China has long claimed sovereignty over the island. Taiwan‘s government rejects China’s claims and says the island’s people should decide its future.
The US delegation, led by Senator Ed Markey, are in Taipei for a two-day trip. The de facto US embassy in Taipei said the stopover is part of a larger visit to the Indo-Pacific region.
Taiwan‘s presidential office said the group were due to meet Tsai on Monday morning.
“Especially at a time when China is raising tensions in the Taiwan Strait and the region with military exercises, Markey leading a delegation to visit Taiwan once again demonstrates the United States Congress’ firm support for Taiwan,” it said in a statement.
Markey chairs the Senate Foreign Relations East Asia, Pacific, and International Cybersecurity Subcommittee. The co-leaders of the visit are Representative John Garamendi of the congressional Nuclear Weapons and Arms Control Working Group and Representative Don Beyer, a spokesperson for Markey said.
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‘Stir Up Confrontation’
China’s embassy in Washington said on Sunday that “members of the US Congress should act in consistence with the US government’s one-China policy” and argued the latest congressional visit “once again proves that the US does not want to see stability across the Taiwan Straits and has spared no effort to stir up confrontation between the two sides and interfere in China’s internal affairs.”
A spokesperson for the White House National Security Council said members of Congress have gone to Taiwan for decades and will continue to do so, adding that such visits were in accordance with the United States’ long-standing one-China policy.
Under that policy, the United States has official diplomatic relations with Beijing, and not Taiwan. However, Washington does not take a position on whether Beijing has sovereignty over Taiwan, and is bound under US law to provide Taiwan with means to defend itself.
Markey’s office said the lawmakers in Taiwan “will reaffirm the United States’ support for Taiwan as guided by theTaiwan Relations Act, US-China Joint Communiques, and Six Assurances, and will encourage stability and peace across the Taiwan Strait.”
The group will meet “with elected leaders and members of the private sector to discuss shared interests including reducing tensions in the Taiwan Strait and expanding economic cooperation, including investments in semiconductors,” Markey’s office said.
The delegation made a prior stop in South Korea, where Markey met South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol.
Taiwan‘s Foreign Ministry published pictures of four lawmakers being met at Taipei’s downtown Songshan airport having arrived on a US air force transport jet, while Markey arrived at the Taoyuan international airport.
“The delegation will meet with senior Taiwan leaders to discuss US-Taiwan relations, regional security, trade and investment, global supply chains, climate change, and other significant issues of mutual interest,” the de facto US embassy said.
While China’s drills around Taiwan had abated before the US group arrived, but it was still carrying out military activities.
Eleven Chinese military aircraft crossed the Taiwan Strait’s median line or entered Taiwan‘s air defence zone on Sunday, Taiwan‘s Defence Ministry said. And 13 planes crossed the strait on Saturday, the ministry said.
US officials have said Beijing “overreacted” to Pelosi’s visit and used it as a pretext to try to change the status quo in the Taiwan Strait.
Threat of Global Recession if China Invades
Meanwhile, analysts said on Monday that an outright of invasion of Taiwan by China would likely fuel significant militarization in Asia, greatly disrupt global supply chains, weaken global growth and raise the threat of a global recession.
“Given the strong trade links of China and Taiwan with major advanced economies and both countries’ roles as crucial suppliers of important industrial input goods (eg. semiconductors, rare earths), these rising tensions could have a far more significant economic and financial impact than the current conflict between Russia and Ukraine,” DBRS Morningstar said in a note.
- Reuters with additional editing by Jim Pollard
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