Beijing deployed what it called “combat readiness” patrols over the Taiwan Strait last Friday in response to a visit by a delegation of U.S. lawmakers to Taiwan. The Congressional delegation’s arrival to the island is another act of support for Taipei amidst the ongoing saga of military tensions spurred by Beijing.
Tensions over the strait
The U.S. Congressional delegation made the trip to Taiwan to meet with the president of the Republic of China (ROC), Tsai Ing-wen, and to offer the U.S.’s “rock-solid” support for the island government, Fox News reported.
The combat readiness patrols were deployed utilizing both naval and air forces, the People’s Liberation Army’s (PLA) Eastern Theatre Command declared on Friday.
Taiwan’s Defence Ministry reported on Friday that it spotted eight PLA aircraft, including two H-6 bombers which were both capable of nuclear armament, entering Taiwan’s air defence identification zone (ADIZ).
“The relevant actions are necessary to deal with the current situation in the Taiwan Strait.” the PLA said. “Taiwan is part of China’s territory, and defending national sovereignty and territorial integrity is our military’s sacred mission.”
“The army will continue to be on high alert and take all necessary measures to counter, at any time, any interference by external forces and any conspiracy by separatists aiming at the so-called ‘Taiwan independence’,” they added.
According to Reuters, since Oct. 1, Taiwan has reported around 150 PLA aircraft entering its ADIZ. On Sunday, the island’s air force was deployed to ward off 27 Chinese aircraft, including five H-6 bombers, 18 fighter jets and one Y-20 aerial refuelling aircraft, the Defence Ministry noted.
The U.S. delegation included Mark Takano, chairman of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, Colin Allred, Elissa Slotkin, Sara Jacobs and Nancy Mace. While the U.S. does not have official relations with Taipei, it still plays a vital role as its ally and arms supplier.
“Madame President, I want to commend and praise your leadership. Under your administration, the bonds between us are more positive and productive than they have been for decades,” Takano said in a meeting with Tsai.
“Our commitment to Taiwan is rock solid and has remained steadfast as the ties between us have deepened. Taiwan is a democratic success story, a reliable partner and a force for good in the world,” he added.
This was the second time U.S. lawmakers visited Taiwan in November; the first visit was on Nov. 9, which also provoked Beijing to send a combat readiness patrol to the strait.
The delegation also visited Japan and South Korea for Thanksgiving.
In a statement regarding the meeting, Tsai said, “Taiwan will continue to step up cooperation with the United States in order to uphold our shared values of freedom and democracy and to ensure peace and stability in the region.”
Beijing speaks out
In response to the arrival of the delegation, the CCP called out the U.S. stating that “playing the Taiwan card” was a “losing hand.”
According to Mace, R-S.C., when the delegation’s visit to Taiwan was made public, the Chinese embassy in Washington called for the lawmakers to cease meeting with Taipei.
“When News broke of our visit to Taiwan, China’s embassy demanded we cancel the trip (we didn’t),” Mace posted on Twitter. “We’ve had a productive and meaningful visit throughout the Indo-Pacific region as the first bipartisan [U.S.] House delegation since the start of COVID. This is just the start.”
Slotkin, D-Mich., also tweeted that the Chinese Embassy also messaged her to call off the trip to Taiwan.
“When news of our trip broke yesterday, my office received a blunt message from the Chinese Embassy, telling me to call off the trip.” Slotkin wrote on Twitter.
On Beijing’s side, a spokesperson for the CCP claimed that the delegation’s meeting with Taipei breached the “one-China policy”, questioning the U.S.’s unofficial support for the island government.
“That individual U.S. politicians want only challenge the one-China principle and embolden the ‘Taiwan independence’ forces has aroused the strong indignation of 1.4 billion Chinese people,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said.
Despite the U.S.’s commitment to respect Beijing’s “one-China policy”, President Joe Biden vowed that the country, alongside other nations, would provide aid and support to Taiwan should the need arise.
Taiwan was also invited, alongside 109 other nations, to Washington’s “Summit for Democracy” planned for next month, which excludes Communist China. Beijing has also protested the invitation of the ROC to the conference.