China Stages Military Drills Around Taiwan as US Delegation Visits

By Dorothy Li
Dorothy Li
Dorothy Li
Dorothy Li is a reporter for The Epoch Times based in Europe.
April 16, 2022Updated: April 16, 2022

As the high-level U.S. delegation sent a message of support for Taiwan during a visit on April 15, the Chinese regime said it conducted military drills around the island, reinforcing its threat to use force to bring Taiwan under control.

Led by Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), the six-member bipartisan group met with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen in her office in Taipei on Friday morning.

The Chinese military sent frigates, bombers, fighter jets, and other forces to the East China Sea and regions around Taiwan, Shi Yilu, spokesperson for the People’s Liberation Army Eastern Theater Command, said, according to China’s state broadcaster.

The air and naval drills were in response to the “recent negative actions of the U.S., including the visit of a delegation of lawmakers to Taiwan,” said Zhao Lijian, the spokesperson of the regime’s foreign ministry.

Beijing would “continue to take strong measures to resolutely safeguard its sovereignty,” Zhao told reporters at Friday’s briefing.

The communist regime in Beijing is against any official exchanges between Taiwan and other governments around the world. It views the self-ruled island as its own territory to be taken by force if necessary.

On the other side of the Taiwan Strait, Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) acknowledged the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) had told them it was “very unhappy” about the visits, but the warning didn’t dissuade them from traveling to the island.

“It won’t dissuade us in the future in supporting Taiwan,” said Menendez, the head of the Senate’s Foreign Relations Committee, in a speech at Tsai’s office.

Epoch Times Photo
Members of an American congressional delegation pose for a photo with Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen (center R) and other Taiwanese officials during a meeting at the Presidential Office in Taipei, Taiwan, on April 15, 2022. (Taiwan Presidential Office via AP)

He emphasized, “We seek no conflict with China, as I believe Taiwan seeks no conflict with China.”

Other members of the delegation were Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.), Sen. Robert Portman (R-Ohio), Sen. Benjamin Sasse (R-Neb.), and Rep. Ronny Jackson (R-Texas). They also delivered speeches to show their support for Taipei.

“To abandon Taiwan would be to abandon democracy and freedom. It would be to abandon free trade. It would reward the worst of humanity. We are here today to show our support for Taiwan,” said Graham.

Tsai expressed her welcome to the delegation and her wish to further deepen the cooperation between Taipei and Washington.

“Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has proven that democracies must bolster their alliances. Collectively, we can defend ourselves from the threats posed by authoritarian nations that seek to disrupt regional peace,” Tsai told the U.S. delegation.

In a statement released on late Friday, Taiwan’s foreign ministry condemned the CCP’s “recalcitrant and ridiculous remarks and actions” to the U.S. delegation’s visits.

“The threat of force by the CCP’s totalitarian authorities against Taiwan will only strengthen the Taiwanese people’s will to defend freedom and democracy, strengthen the support for democratic Taiwan from the United States and more democratic partners, and attach importance to peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait,” read the statement.

Taiwan will continue to deepen cooperation with like-minded countries, like the United States, defend the free and open Indo-Pacific region, and prevent the communist regime’s “continuous expansion,” it stated.

The delegation came amid concerns that the Ukraine crisis could be used by the communist regime in China to hasten its designs to seize Taiwan.

While Taipei hasn’t reported any sign of an imminent invasion, Beijing has escalated military harassment by flying warplanes near the island on a regular basis over the past two years.

The United States is Taiwan’s most important unofficial ally and arms supplier, and is bound by the Taiwan Relations Act to provide Taipei with the means to defend itself. On April 6, the United States approved a possible $95 million sale of equipment and services to boost the island’s air defenses.

The Associated Press contributed to the report.

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