China announces more military drills around Taiwan

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China announces more military drills around Taiwan

As the island s president met with members of a new U.S. congressional delegation on Monday, China announced more military drills around Taiwan, in a sign of support among American lawmakers for the self-governing island Beijing claims to be its own.

Taiwanese media showed the delegation arriving for the talks, but details of the meeting were not immediately public. The delegation was due to depart later on Monday on a U.S. government plane.

The visit came less than two weeks after the trip to Taiwan by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, which prompted days of threats by China, including the firing of missiles over the island and into the Taiwan Strait. Pelosi is the highest-level member of the U.S. government to visit Taiwan in 25 years.

China also sent warplanes and navy ships across the waterway's median, which has been a buffer between the sides that separated during the civil war in 1949. China regards formal contacts between U.S. politicians and the island's government as a support for its independence from Beijing.

China's People s Liberation Army announced further drills in the seas and skies surrounding Taiwan on Monday, the Defense Ministry and its Eastern Theater Command announced in a statement.

The exercises are intended to be a resolute response and solemn deterrent against collusion and provocation between the U.S. and Taiwan, the ministry said.

The previous two weeks of threatening exercises caused Taiwan to put its military on alert, but were met with defiance and apathy among the public.

In Taipei, Taiwan's capital, the chair of the legislature's Foreign and National Defense Committee, Lo, Chih-Cheng, met with the U.S. lawmakers and stated that their visit was of great significance because the Chinese military exercise is intended to deter U.S. congressmen from visiting Taiwan. Their visit shows that China can't stop politicians from any country from visiting Taiwan, and it also conveys an important message that the American people stand with the Taiwanese people, Lo said.

The threat to take the island by military force is emphasized by China's recent saber rattling, which says it wants to use peaceful means to bring Taiwan under its control. The earlier drills appeared to be a rehearsal of a blockade or attack on Taiwan and forced the cancellation of commercial flights and disrupting shipping to Taiwan's main ports as well as cargo passing through the Taiwan Strait, one of the world's busiest shipping lanes.

The five-member congressional delegation is led by Democratic Sen. Ed Markey of Massachusetts and will meet with other government and private sector representatives. The topics of discussion are investing in Taiwan's crucial semiconductor industry and reducing tensions in the Taiwan Strait.

The delegation is composed of Republican Rep. Aumua Coleman Radewagen, a Delegate from American Samoa, and Democrats John Garamendi and Alan Lowenthal from California and Don Beyer from Virginia.