Beijing, Apr 8 (EFE).- The Eastern Theater of Command of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army kicked off Saturday combat readiness patrol and military exercises around Taiwan, days after Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen met US House Speaker Kevin McCarthy and other lawmakers in California.
The drills, underway in the airspace and maritime areas of the Taiwan Strait, off the northern and southern coasts of the island as well as to the island’s east, will conclude on Monday, the command announced on its official WeChat account.
China on Thursday condemned the activities of Tsai in the US, a country it accused of “collusion” with Taiwan, adding that it will “take resolute and effective measures to safeguard national sovereignty and territorial integrity.”
Meanwhile, the maritime security authority of the southeastern Chinese province of Fujian, located off Taiwan, warned in two statements that live-fire exercises will be held in the waters near the Chinese coast of the province on Apr. 8, 11, 13 , 15, 17 and 20, the state-run Global Times newspaper reported.
On Friday, China imposed sanctions against Hsiao Bi-khim, Taiwan’s de facto ambassador to the United States, for allegedly seeking US support for the island’s independence agenda to provoke confrontation in the Strait of Formosa.
China also announced sanctions against the Hudson Institute and the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library for “providing a platform” to Tsai to “participate in separatist activities.”
The Taiwanese leader, who made a stopover in the US on her return from an official trip to Central America, gave a speech Thursday at an event organized by the Hudson Institute, which awarded her its Global Leadership Award, in addition to meeting US lawmakers in the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library the previous day.
The meeting between McCarthy and Tsai ruffled many Chinese feathers in a reminder of the angry response to then-House leader Nancy Pelosi’s Taiwan trip in August last year.
In response to Pelosi’s trip, China conducted military drills, encircling the self-ruled island, and sent warplanes across the median live that divides the Taiwan Strait.
Beijing also suspended contact with the US over several important issues.
Taiwan is one of the key sources of tension between China and the US, mainly because Washington is Taipei’s key arms supplier and could be its greatest military ally in the event of a war with China.
China considers the self-ruled island part of its territory.
Beijing says it reserves the right to use force to reunify Taiwan, even as a peaceful merger would be its first choice.
The island was the refuge of the Chinese Nationalist Party (Kuomintang) forces after losing the civil war with the Communists, who, since then, have claimed sovereignty over the territory.
In 1979, Washington broke diplomatic ties with Taipei in favor of Beijing. However, the American Institute in Taiwan operates as a de facto embassy in Taipei. EFE