China announces live-fire exercises as unofficial US delegation lands in Taiwan

Published (HKT): 2021.04.14 22:01

Beijing on Wednesday announced new live-fire exercises in the Taiwan Strait, just hours before a delegation of former United States officials touched down in Taiwan.

A White House official had said the visit by ex-senator Chris Dodd and former deputy secretaries of state Richard Armitage and James Steinberg was a “personal signal” of U.S. President Joe Biden’s commitment to Taiwan. The visit comes on the 42nd anniversary of the Taiwan Relations Act and followed recent U.S. policy changes to bolster diplomatic ties with the self-ruled island.

The unofficial delegation landed in Taipei at 3:10 p.m. local time and was greeted by Taiwanese Foreign Minister Joseph Wu and William Brent Christensen, the director of the American Institute in Taiwan’s office in Taipei. The delegation will meet with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen at 10 a.m. Thursday.

Taiwan’s Presidential Office spokesperson Xavier Chang said that the two-day visit “demonstrates the firm relationship between Taiwan and the U.S.,” which was “as solid as a rock.”

The visit had been authorized by Biden less than three months into his term, reflecting  bipartisan support in Washington D.C. for a robust bilateral relationship, Chang added.

Around five hours before the delegation landed, the China Maritime Safety Administration announced new live-fire drills off the coast of Shanwei and Shantou in the southern province of Guangdong.

On Monday, 25 People’s Liberation Army aircraft, including fighter jets and bombers, crossed into Taiwan’s air defense identification zone in the largest incursion of its kind in recent years.

China’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian earlier said the U.S. must “immediately stop any form of U.S.-Taiwan official contacts” and must not send any “wrong signals” to separatist forces on the island if it wanted to avoid damaging Sino-U.S. relations and the peace and stability of the Taiwan Strait.

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