A delegation of American lawmakers visited Taiwan on Nov. 9. This has been met with strong opposition from Beijing, with the Chinese military conducting a “combat readiness” patrol nearby. The Chinese regime has termed the American visit an “act of provocation.”
U.S. lawmakers arrived on a Boeing military plane, with the trip being arranged by the American Institute in Taiwan. Names of the lawmakers have not been revealed. Taiwan Premier Su Tseng-chang told reporters that he respects “mutual visits between friends.”
Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby stated that the visit is not unusual and that it was the second such congressional trip to the island in 2021. In early June, Democrat Senators Chris Coons and Tammy Duckworth together with Republican Senator Dan Sullivan had visited Taiwan.
“Congressional delegation visits to Taiwan are fairly routine… I would put it in the context of the normal practice here, and in keeping with our obligations under the Taiwan Relations Act, which has been supported by multiple administrations, both Democratic and Republican, that reinforces our requirement to help Taiwan with its self-defense needs,” Kirby told reporters.
The U.S. delegation visit has not gone over well with Beijing which spoke against the trip with harsh words. Wang Wenbin, a spokesperson for the Chinese Foreign Ministry, accused the trip of violating the one-China principle and asked Washington to “immediately stop any form of official interaction” with the island. He characterized American lawmakers as collaborating with “Taiwan independence” forces, saying that such actions “will eventually lead to fire.”
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Also on Nov. 9, China conducted a “combat readiness” patrol close to the Taiwan Strait. The term was first used by the founder of communist China Mao Zedong while preparing the 3rd Five Year Plan (1966-1970). He used the term in the context of preparing China against a potential Soviet confrontation. In October 2017, President Xi Jinping once again used the term.
In an interview with Beijing-backed media outlet Global Times, Senior Colonel Shi Yi, spokesperson for the PLA Eastern Theater Command, stated that the current “combat readiness” exercises were carried out to improve “joint combat capability” of various forces.
“This drill is targeted at a certain country’s seriously wrong moves and remarks on the Taiwan question and Taiwan secessionists’ activities, and is a necessary measure to safeguard the country’s sovereignty,” Shi said.
Beijing views Taiwan as a wayward province that needs to be annexed to form a unified Chinese mainland. Several top-ranking officials from the Chinese regime, including President Xi Jinping and military leaders, have openly declared that they will not hesitate to use military force for unification.
Last month, Taiwan’s Defense Minister Chiu Kuo-cheng warned that Beijing will have the full capability to invade the island by 2025. His remarks came after Beijing sent a record number of planes into Taiwan’s Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ).
“It is the toughest situation I have seen in more than 40 years of my military life… For me as a military man, the urgency is right in front of me,” Kuo-cheng said at a parliamentary committee hearing on Oct. 6. Even though China does have the capability to conduct such an invasion right now, the costs of such a move will be massive. But in four years, an invasion will become less costly, he added.
Back in March, Adm. Philip Davidson, head of the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, had also warned during a Senate Armed Services hearing that Beijing might invade Taiwan in the “next six years.”
Pointing out that the military balance in the Indo-Pacific was becoming unfavorable to America and its allies, he stated that the erosion of strong deterrence will embolden Beijing to become more aggressive in the East China Sea, South China Sea, and Taiwan.
“Our deterrence posture in the Indo-Pacific must demonstrate the capability, the capacity, and the will to convince Beijing unequivocally the costs of achieving their objectives by the use of military force are simply too high,” Davidson said.