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Chinese military responds to ‘wrong signals’ about Taiwan

The Chinese military has staged a large-scale naval and aerial patrol mission and held drills near Taiwan amid a visit by US lawmakers to the self-governed island.

Following the arrival of the American delegation to Taipei on Thursday, the Chinese Foreign Ministry demanded that the US “stop official exchanges with Taiwan and avoid going further down the dangerous path.”

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This was followed by a show of force on Friday as destroyers, bombers, fighter jets and other equipment from various branches of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army were sent on a combat readiness patrol mission in the Taiwan Strait. Drills were also held that simulated a surprise attack at sea, Senior Colonel Shi Yi, spokesperson for the PLA Eastern Theater Command, said.

According to Shi, the move was a response to the “wrong signals” about Taiwan coming from the US. Despite being destined to fail, Washington’s “tricks” were still dangerous, the spokesman stated. “Those who play with fire will get burnt,” he warned.

Chinese Defense Ministry spokesman Wu Qian later clarified what those “wrong signals” were, saying that the ongoing visit of a delegation of US Congressmen to Taiwan violated Beijing’s ‘One China’ policy, damaged bilateral relations between the two countries and further increased tensions in the Taiwan Strait.

Taiwan is “a sacred and integral part of China’s territory,” Wu insisted, adding that the country’s military was eager to take “all necessary measures to resolutely thwart any interference of external forces and the separatist plot of ‘Taiwan independence.’”

A bipartisan group of US lawmakers, which includes the chairman of the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Bob Menendez, and senior Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, held talks Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen on Friday.

During the meeting, Graham promised that the US was “going to start making China pay a greater price for what they are doing all over the world… The support for [Russia’s President Vladimir] Putin must come with a price. The never-ending cyberattack on your economy and people by the Communist Chinese needs to come with a price.”

Despite recognizing Beijing as the sole legitimate authority in China since 1979, the US has maintained strong unofficial ties with Taipei, backing its push for sovereignty and supplying arms to the island.

Taiwan has been self-governed since 1949, but never formally declared independence from China, so Beijing views it as a breakaway territory under its ‘One China’ policy.

Despite saying that a peaceful solution was preferable, President Xi Jinping and other Chinese officials have previously warned that Beijing wouldn’t hesitate to use force against Taiwan if the island of 25 million eventually tries to cut ties with the mainland.

Responding to a question about the chances of a Chinese attack on Taiwan, White House National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan assured on Thursday that Washington was “going to take every step we possibly can to ensure it never happens.”

Beijing was “carefully looking” at the events in Ukraine where Russia launched a military offensive in February, “to learn lessons writ large, including with respect to Taiwan,” he warned.

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