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Beijing Announces New Military Drills Over US Senate Delegation’s Visit to Taiwan

A native of New York, Alina has a Bachelors degree in Corporate Communications from Baruch College and writes about human rights' related issues, politics, tech and society.
Published: August 16, 2022
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FILE PHOTO: Taiwan's Foreign Ministry Department of North American Affairs Director-General Douglas Hsu welcomes U.S. Representatives Alan Lowenthal, John Garamendi, Don Beyer and Aumua Amata Coleman Radewagen at Taipei Songshan Airport in Taipei, Taiwan in this handout image released August 14, 2022. (Image: Republic of China Ministry of Foreign Affairs/via Reuters)

After the U.S. sent a Senate delegation to visit Taiwan on Monday, Aug. 5, Communist China announced that its People’s Liberation Army (PLA) would be conducting new military drills around the self-ruling island, and also increased diplomatic warnings against Washington.

Just over a week after a high profile visit by U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the five-member team met with Taiwan’s leader Tsai Ing-wen and other high-ranking officials in a further show of support amongst U.S lawmakers and the island that Beijing claims as its own. 

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Led by Sen. Ed Markey (Dem-Massachusetts), the delegation included Republican Rep. Aumua Amata Coleman Radewagen — a delegate from American Samoa — as well as Democrats John Garamendi and Alan Lowenthal from California, and Don Beyer from Virginia. The team was due to depart on a U.S. government plane later in the day. 

Footage released by Taiwanese media showed the American delegation arriving in Taiwan and meeting with Tsai and other officials. Although details of the meeting were not immediately released, the main topics of discussions were expected to revolve around enhanced cooperation and investments into Taiwan’s crucial semiconductor industry, as well as reducing tensions in the Taiwan Strait. 

After U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s unscheduled trip to Taiwan on Aug. 2, Beijing imposed sanctions on both the congresswoman and her immediately family. The visit also prompted stern diplomatic warnings and enhanced military exercises from the Chinese regime. The exercises included the firing of missiles over the island into the Taiwan Strait and surrounding waters, vast amounts of which are disputed.

Pelosi’s trip marked the highest-ranking visit from the U.S. government to Taiwan in 25 years.

On the day of her arrival, Pelosi also published an op-ed in the Washington Post explaining why she was “leading a Congressional delegation to Taiwan,” and underscored the obligations laid out in the 1979 Taiwan Relations Act (TRA), which require the U.S. government to provide military and tactical training, as well as other necessary aid in helping Taiwan defend itself against a possible communist invasion.

Increased military presence

After the U.S. team’s visit, Chinese warplanes and navy ships could be seen crossing the waterway’s median.

The PLA announced in a statement via the mainland Defense Ministry that additional naval and airforce drills would begin on Aug. 15, and were intended to be seen as “a resolute response and solemn deterrent against collusion and provocation between the U.S. and Taiwan,” the PRC ministry said.

Taiwan, officially known as the Republic of China (ROC), once governed all of China before being forced off the mainland by communist rebels, who then founded the People’s Republic of China (PRC). The current Chinese Communist Party (CCP) does not recognize either the ROC or an independent Taiwan, insisting that any country wishing to pursue diplomatic relations with it must first break official ties with Taipei under its One-China principle. 

This, in addition to Taiwan’s expulsion from the United Nations in 1979, has resulted in the island being isolated from the global community.

Lo Chih-Cheng, Taiwan’s chair of Foreign and National Defense said after meeting with the American delegation that, “Their visit at this time is of great significance, because the Chinese military exercise is (intended) to deter U.S. congressmen from visiting Taiwan.”

“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 told NPR News

Although Beijing has indicated its desire for a “peaceful reunification” with Taiwan, it has recently emphasized its threats in forcefully taking the island. Earlier drills designed to appear as an invasion of Taiwan resulted in the cancellation of numerous commercial flights and brought disruptions to the island’s key shipping ports. 

The Taiwan strait is one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes — with hundreds of cargo ships passing through it everyday.