China conducts combat readiness drill after US congressional delegation arrives in Taiwan

China conducted combat readiness drills on Tuesday as a U.S. congressional delegation arrived in Taiwan, the latest incident of saber-rattling from Beijing over the island. 

Senior Colonel Shi Yi, a spokesperson for the People's Liberation Army’s Eastern Theater Command, said in a statement that the drills were to “test and improve the combat effectiveness of the troops of multiple services and arms in joint operations.” 

“Taiwan is a part of Chinese territory, the military operation conducted by the troops under the Eastern Theater Command forces is in response to the erroneous words and deeds of relevant countries on the Taiwan question and acts of the ‘Taiwan independence’ separatist forces,” Shi continued.

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Taiwan’s defense ministry separately said that six Chinese aircrafts entered its air defense zone, including four J-16 fighter jets.

Tensions between China and Taiwan have risen as Beijing ramps up provocations in recent weeks.  

On Tuesday, a delegation of U.S. senators and members of the House arrived in Taipei on a military plane, Reuters reported, citing local media.

It was unclear which lawmakers were part of the delegation. The Hill has reached out to the White House and State Department for further information.

Pentagon Press Secretary John KirbyJohn KirbyOvernight Defense & National Security — US, Russia meet during 'critical' point US sends aircraft carrier group to Mediterranean as Russia threat looms Lawmakers press Biden admin to send more military aid to Ukraine MORE confirmed to reporters on Tuesday that a congressional delegation had arrived in Taipei, adding that such trips are not unusual.

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"Congressional delegation visits to Taiwan are fairly routine," Kirby said. "I would put it in the context of the normal practice here, and in keeping with our obligations under the Taiwan Relations Act, which has been supported by multiple administrations, both Democratic and Republican, that reinforces our requirement to help Taiwan with its self-defense needs."

Senior Col. Tan Kefei, a spokesperson for China’s defense ministry, said in a statement that Beijing “firmly opposes and strongly condemns” the trip.

“China must and will be reunified. No one should underestimate the Chinese people's strong determination, unbreakable will, and powerful ability to defend national sovereignty and territorial integrity,” Tan added. 

This wouldn’t be the first time a congressional delegation visited Taiwan this year. Sens. Tammy DuckworthLadda (Tammy) Tammy DuckworthThese Senate seats are up for election in 2022 Democrats call on Biden administration to ease entry to US for at-risk Afghans We must learn from the Afghanistan experience — starting with the withdrawal MORE (D-Ill.), Chris CoonsChris Andrew CoonsUS maintains pressure on Russia amid concerns of potential Ukraine invasion Sunday shows - Russia standoff over Ukraine dominates Sunday shows preview: US reaffirms support for Ukraine amid threat of Russian invasion MORE (D-Del.) and Dan SullivanDaniel Scott SullivanSenate confirms Rahm Emanuel to be ambassador to Japan GOP resistance to Biden FCC nominee could endanger board's Democratic majority Man charged with threatening Alaska senators pleads not guilty MORE (R-Alaska) visited Taipei in early June

Updated at 6:07 p.m.