The Chinese military staged a further round of exercises around Taiwan today in response to another visit by US politicians to the island.
A bipartisan congressional delegation led by Senator Ed Markey, a Democrat, arrived in Taipei on an unannounced visit late on Sunday.
The Chinese military unit responsible for the area adjacent to Taiwan, the People’s Liberation Army’s Eastern Theatre Command, said it had organised combat readiness patrols and drills in the sea and airspace around the island, which China claims as its own.
The exercises were “a stern deterrent to the United States and Taiwan continuing to play political tricks and undermine peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait”, it added.
The American delegation will meet President Tsai, other Taiwanese officials and businessmen to discuss shared interests, including reducing tensions with China and investments in semi-conductors.
It is the second high-profile US visit in less than a fortnight, after that of Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the House of Representatives, which set off several days of Chinese war games.
Markey tweeted after landing in Taipei that he was there “to reaffirm US support for Taiwan and encourage stability and peace across the Taiwan Strait”.
The Taiwanese authorities welcomed the trip as another show of “strong support”. Chinese warplanes have continued to cross the midpoint of the Taiwan Strait daily even after the conclusion of the military exercises last Wednesday.
Beijing considers Taiwan to be part of Chinese territory and has vowed to use force if necessary to bring the territory under its control. The two split in 1949 after a civil war in which the Communists took control of China and the losing Nationalists retreated to the island of Taiwan.
China accuses the US of encouraging the independence movement in Taiwan through political visits and the sale of military equipment to the island.
Wu Qian, a spokesman for China’s defence ministry, condemned the latest visits as “blatantly violating the one-China principle”.
“It has fully exposed the true face of the US as the disruptor and the destroyer of peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait,” Wu said.
Kurt Campbell, a deputy assistant to President Biden, accused China of overreacting and said its actions continue to be “destabilising”.
“It has sought to disregard the centreline between [China] and Taiwan, which has been respected by both sides for more than 60 years as a stabilising feature,” he told reporters last Friday.
Pelosi visited Taipei on August 2 and pledged US support for the island of 23 million people. China responded by launching a six-day military exercise in the waters and airspace around Taiwan, effectively blockading the island and disrupting flights.
During the exercise, the Chinese military fired 11 missiles and repeatedly took warplanes and warships beyond the median line of the Taiwan Strait, the de facto boundary.
China has warned other nations not to follow the American example of political delegations travelling to Taiwan. A group of MPs on the House of Commons foreign affairs committee plan to visit the island later this year, probably in November or early December.
Zheng Zeguang, the Chinese ambassador to the UK, urged the British government to “abide by its commitment” that Beijing is the only legal representative of China and that Taiwan is part of China.
An embassy statement said: “The Chinese side urges the decision-makers in the UK to take concrete actions to abide by its commitment to the one-China principle, not to develop any form of official ties or military cooperation with Taiwan, stop arguing for the United States and the ‘Taiwan independence’ separatist forces, and stop making any remarks or engaging in any activities that interfere in China’s internal affairs.”