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.

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 Kirby confirmed to reporters on Tuesday that a congressional delegation had arrived in Taipei, adding that such trips are not unusual.

“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 Duckworth (D-Ill.), Chris Coons (D-Del.) and Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska) visited Taipei in early June

Updated at 6:07 p.m.

Tags China China-Taiwan tension Chris Coons Cross-Strait relations Dan Sullivan John Kirby Political status of Taiwan Politics of Taiwan Taipei Taiwan Tammy Duckworth

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