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China stages drills to reinforce threat on Taiwan invasion

by HUIZHONG WU The Associated Press | April 16, 2022 at 1:00 a.m.
In this photo released by the Taiwan Presidential Office, Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., left, and Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen, right, pose for a photo during a meeting at the Presidential Office in Taipei, Taiwan, Friday, April 15, 2022. U.S. lawmakers visiting Taiwan have made a pointed and public declaration of their support for the self-governing island democracy while also issuing a warning to China. (Taiwan Presidential Office via AP)

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- China said its military staged exercises Friday to reinforce its threat to use force to bring Taiwan under its control, as U.S. lawmakers visiting Taiwan made a public declaration of their support for the self-governing island democracy while issuing a warning to China.

The six lawmakers met Friday morning with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen and were also scheduled to meet with the island's defense minister.

The military drills conducted by the People's Liberation Army's Eastern Theater Command in areas opposite Taiwan were "a countermeasure to the recent negative actions of the U.S., including the visit of a delegation of lawmakers to Taiwan," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian said.

China would "continue to take strong measures to resolutely safeguard its sovereignty and territorial integrity," Zhao added.

China is against any official exchanges between Taiwan's government and other foreign governments because it claims Taiwan is part of its national territory and not an independent country. China and Taiwan split after a civil war in 1949.

The Eastern Theater Command described the exercises in a statement as "a necessary action based on the present security situation in the Taiwan Strait and the need to safeguard national sovereignty."

"Taiwan is a sacred and inalienable part of Chinese territory. There is no room for any foreign interference on the Taiwan issue," the statement read.

As part of the delegation of visiting U.S. lawmakers, Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., gave a speech Friday praising Taiwan's democracy and its global status as a manufacturer of semi-conductor chips used in everything from cars to smartphones. He also warned of consequences if that status were jeopardized.

"It is a country of global significance, of global consequence, of global impact, and therefore it should be understood the security of Taiwan has a global impact for those who would wish it ill," said Menendez, the head of the Senate's Foreign Relations Committee, in a speech at Taiwan's Presidential Office.

He emphasized that "we seek no conflict with China as I believe Taiwan seeks no conflict with China."

The delegation is by Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C. It also includes Republicans Sen. Richard Burr of North Carolina, Sen. Robert Portman of Ohio, Sen. Benjamin Sasse of Nebraska and Rep. Ronny Jackson of Texas.

Tsai said she welcomed their visit and hoped it would help to further deepen U.S.-Taiwan cooperation.

"Russia's invasion of Ukraine has proven that democracies must bolster their alliances and collectively we can defend ourselves from the threats posed by authoritarian nations that seek to disrupt regional peace," she said.

The U.S. is the democratic island's biggest unofficial ally and has stepped up weapons sales to Taiwan in past years.

By law, the U.S. is bound to help Taiwan with arms that are defensive in nature. However, the question of whether the U.S. would intervene in the case of a military invasion by China remains open.

  photo  In this photo released by the Taiwan Presidential Office, Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., left, and Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen, right, pose for a photo during a meeting at the Presidential Office in Taipei, Taiwan, Friday, April 15, 2022. U.S. lawmakers visiting Taiwan have made a pointed and public declaration of their support for the self-governing island democracy while also issuing a warning to China. (Taiwan Presidential Office via AP)
 
 
  photo  In this photo released by the Taiwan Presidential Office, Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., left, listens as Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen, right, speaks during a meeting at the Presidential Office in Taipei, Taiwan, Friday, April 15, 2022. U.S. lawmakers visiting Taiwan have made a pointed and public declaration of their support for the self-governing island democracy while also issuing a warning to China. (Taiwan Presidential Office via AP)
 
 
  photo  In this photo released by the Taiwan Presidential Office, Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., left, and Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen, right, pose for a photo during a meeting at the Presidential Office in Taipei, Taiwan, Friday, April 15, 2022. U.S. lawmakers visiting Taiwan have made a pointed and public declaration of their support for the self-governing island democracy while also issuing a warning to China. (Taiwan Presidential Office via AP)
 
 
  photo  In this photo released by the Taiwan Presidential Office, from second left, Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen, and Taiwan's Foreign Minister Joseph Wu, at far right, meet at the Presidential Office in Taipei, Taiwan, Friday, April 15, 2022. U.S. lawmakers visiting Taiwan have made a pointed and public declaration of their support for the self-governing island democracy while also issuing a warning to China. (Taiwan Presidential Office via AP)
 
 
  photo  In this photo released by the Taiwan Presidential Office, Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., left, speaks during a meeting with Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen at the Presidential Office in Taipei, Taiwan, Friday, April 15, 2022. U.S. lawmakers visiting Taiwan have made a pointed and public declaration of their support for the self-governing island democracy while also issuing a warning to China. (Taiwan Presidential Office via AP)
 
 
  photo  In this photo released by the Taiwan Presidential Office, members of an American Congressional delegation, from left, Rep. Ronny Jackson, R-Texas, Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb., Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., and Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., pose for a photo with Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen, center right, and other Taiwanese officials during a meeting at the Presidential Office in Taipei, Taiwan, Friday, April 15, 2022. U.S. lawmakers visiting Taiwan have made a pointed and public declaration of their support for the self-governing island democracy while also issuing a warning to China. (Taiwan Presidential Office via AP)
 
 
  photo  In this photo released by the Taiwan Presidential Office, Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., left, speaks as Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen, right, listens during a meeting at the Presidential Office in Taipei, Taiwan, Friday, April 15, 2022. U.S. lawmakers visiting Taiwan have made a pointed and public declaration of their support for the self-governing island democracy while also issuing a warning to China. (Taiwan Presidential Office via AP)
 
 
  photo  In this photo released by the Taiwan Presidential Office, Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., left, listens as Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen, right, speaks during a meeting at the Presidential Office in Taipei, Taiwan, Friday, April 15, 2022. U.S. lawmakers visiting Taiwan have made a pointed and public declaration of their support for the self-governing island democracy while also issuing a warning to China. (Taiwan Presidential Office via AP)
 
 
  photo  In this photo released by the Taiwan Presidential Office, Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., left, listens as Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen, right, speaks during a meeting at the Presidential Office in Taipei, Taiwan, Friday, April 15, 2022. U.S. lawmakers visiting Taiwan have made a pointed and public declaration of their support for the self-governing island democracy while also issuing a warning to China. (Taiwan Presidential Office via AP)
 
 

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