The military exercises were “a countermeasure to the recent negative actions of the US, including the visit of a delegation of lawmakers to Taiwan,” the Chinese Foreign Ministry said.
China's military has staged exercises to reinforce its threat to use force to bring Taiwan under its control, as US lawmakers visiting Taiwan reiterated their support for the island while issuing a warning to Beijing.
The six lawmakers met with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen on Friday and were also scheduled to meet with the island’s defence minister.
Drills by the People’s Liberation Army’s Eastern Theater Command in areas opposite Taiwan were “a countermeasure to the recent negative actions of the US, 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 officials and other foreign governments because it claims Taiwan is part of its national territory and not an independent country.
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 said.
'We seek no conflict with China'
The delegation of visiting US lawmakers led by Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina icluded Sen. Richard Burr of North Carolina, Sen. Robert Portman of Ohio, Sen. Benjamin Sasse of Nebraska, Sen. Robert Menendez of New Jersey, and Rep. Ronny Jackson of Texas.
“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 his speech at Taiwan's Presidential Office, he emphasised that “we seek no conflict with China as I believe Taiwan seeks no conflict with China.”
President Tsai said she welcomed their visit and hoped it would help to further deepen US-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,” said Tsai.
The US is the democratic island's biggest unofficial ally and has stepped up weapons sales to Taiwan in past years.
By law, the US is bound to help Taiwan with arms that are defensive in nature. However, the question of whether the US would intervene in the case of a military operation by China remains open.