China's military agitation of Taiwan continues; and once again, American lawmakers could be the primary source of dissension.
According to China officials, military exercises were performed near Taiwan Monday. The air force training coincided with five U.S. lawmakers — including Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass. — meeting with Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen, who reiterated her desire to maintain stability in the region.
Markey and his delegation arrived in Taipei Sunday in what's being reported as an "unannounced" visit. Two weeks ago, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., became the most powerful U.S. figure to visit the island of Taiwan in 25 years.
The People's Liberation Army Eastern Theater Command, the Chinese military unit responsible for the area adjacent to Taiwan, said it performed multi-service joint combat readiness patrols and combat drills around Taiwan — the Penghu Islands, located in the Taiwan Strait — covering the region's sea and airspace.
Theater command officials say the exercises were "a stern deterrent to the United States and Taiwan continuing to play political tricks and undermining peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait."
Even with the contentious visit to Taipei, Senator Markey reportedly told Tsai that "we have a moral obligation" to do everything to prevent an unnecessary conflict.
"Taiwan has demonstrated incredible restraint and discretion during challenging times," he added.
Beijing views self-ruled Taiwan as part of China's territory.
According to The Chronicle, an Australia-based publication, Taiwan's 23 million residents "have long lived with the possibility of an invasion, but the threat has intensified under Chinese President Xi Jinping."
During Pelosi's recent trip, White House and Pentagon officials were reluctant to take a definitive position on the Asia visit. That may be due to the U.S. diplomatically recognizing China as a superpower, but also backing Taiwan's democratic system of government.
Tensions traditionally run high between China and Taiwan. For example, China reportedly flew 129 warplanes over Taiwan for three straight days in October.
As Newsmax chronicled last week, Speaker Pelosi found her trip to Taiwan personally fulfilling and professionally beneficial to Americans' long-term interests in that region.
However, she also condemned China's efforts to "isolate" Taiwan from the world and defended her visit as necessary to "salute this thriving democracy."
"What we saw with China is that they were trying to establish a new normal," Pelosi said. "And we just can't let that happen."
While meeting with U.S. lawmakers, Taiwan's Tsai said China's exercises were affecting regional peace and stability.
"We are engaging in close cooperation with international allies to closely monitor the military situation. At the same time we are doing everything we can to let the world know that Taiwan is determined to safeguard stability and the status quo in the Taiwan Strait," she said, in video footage provided by the presidential office.
China's Defence Ministry said the American officials' trip has been an infringement on China's sovereignty and territorial integrity. It also "fully exposes the true face of the United States as a spoiler and spoiler of peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait."
The statement continued, "The Chinese People's Liberation Army continues to train and prepare for war, resolutely defends national sovereignty and territorial integrity, and will resolutely crush any form of 'Taiwan independence' separatism and foreign interference."
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