US lawmakers visit Taiwan as Beijing conducts ‘combat readiness patrol’ near island

The unspecified group landed in Taipei on a Boeing C-40A military jet shortly after 6 p.m. local time, according to flight details from Flightaware. Subsequently, the plane took off for Okinawa after a short stay at the airport.

The Taiwanese Foreign Ministry confirmed the visit, saying the trip was organized by the American Institute in Taiwan, the de facto US embassy in Taipei. He did not reveal the names of the legislators involved in the visit, nor their itinerary.

When asked for comment, the American Institute in Taiwan did not confirm the list of lawmakers, but directed the Senator to CNN. John cornynInformation Bureau, a Republican from Texas.
Relations between Taipei and Beijing are at their lowest point in decades, marked by fiery rhetoric and military posture. Last month, China’s military sent a record number of fighter jets to the Taiwan Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ), the area surrounding the island where Taipei says it will respond to any incursions.
China is not about to invade Taiwan.  But both sides are on a dangerous path

In a statement, China’s National Defense Ministry condemned the United States for “seriously interfering in China’s internal affairs” and said it should stop “provocative actions” that may increase tensions in the Taiwan Strait.

“(The United States) must refrain from sending the wrong signals to the forces of ‘Taiwan independence’,” the statement read. “The People’s Liberation Army will always be on high alert and will take all necessary measures to resolutely crush any interference by foreign forces and separatist attempts.”

Beijing views the autonomous island as an inseparable part of its territory, even though the two sides have been ruled separately for more than seven decades.

The visit comes as China conducted what it characterized as a “combat readiness patrol” near the Taiwan Strait on Tuesday.

The drills were carried out to “further enhance the joint combat capabilities of multiple military services and branches,” Major Colonel Shi Yi, spokesman for the PLA’s Eastern Theater Command, said, according to the state tabloid Global Times.

“This drill is aimed at seriously wrong movements and comments by a certain country on the Taiwan issue and the activities of Taiwan secessionists, and is a necessary measure to safeguard the sovereignty of the country,” Shi said.

A file photo of the Taipei skyline on January 7, 2020. A delegation of members of the United States Congress landed in Taiwan on Tuesday.

In a press release late Tuesday, the Taiwanese Ministry of National Defense reported that six Chinese fighter jets entered its southwest ADIZ that day.

When asked about the trip, US State Department spokesman Ned Price told reporters: “It is not our practice to confirm or speak to congressional delegations.”

This is not the first time that a delegation of US senators has traveled to Taiwan. In June, an american delegation including Senator Tammy Duckworth, landed on a United States Air Force C-17 Globemaster III freighter to announce the donation of 750,000 doses of the Covid-19 vaccine. And previously, American officials and politicians flew to Taiwan on the C-40, a military version of the Boeing 737 commercial jet.

Pentagon press secretary John Kirby told reporters Tuesday that the visit was made by a delegation from the US Congress and that “it is not unusual” for them to travel on a military plane.

“Visits by the congressional delegation to Taiwan are quite routine,” Kirby said, adding that the trip was “in accordance with our obligations under the Taiwan Relations Act, which has been supported by multiple administrations, both Democratic and Republican. , reinforcing our requirement to help Taiwan. ” with your self-defense needs. “

Taiwan President Says Threat From China Increases 'Every Day' And Confirms Presence Of US Military Trainers On Island

The United States also maintains military ties to the island. On Tuesday, the Taiwanese Ministry of National Defense said that a total of 618 US personnel visited Taiwan on military exchange programs between September 2019 and August 2021.

In its defense report, released once every two years, the ministry said the exchange programs were aimed at boosting Taiwan’s national security, defense strategy and military operations, and said deepening military cooperation with USA.

According to the report, 542 Taiwanese also visited the United States on 175 military exchange programs during the same period.

During a exclusive interview With CNN in October, President Tsai became the first Taiwanese leader in four decades to confirm the presence of US military trainers in Taiwan, though she did not specify the number.

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