China conducts fresh drills around Taiwan as US lawmakers visit

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China said on Monday it had organised fresh military drills around Taiwan, as a delegation of visiting United States lawmakers met the island’s leader after a similar trip by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi heightened fears of conflict.

“This is a solemn deterrent against the US and Taiwan for continuing to play political tricks and undermining peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait,” Shi Yi, spokesman for the Chinese military’s Eastern Theater Command, said in a statement, promising to “resolutely defend national sovereignty”.

China’s Communist Party says it will use force if necessary to take the island and bristles at any perceived treatment of it as a sovereign nation-state.

In response to the delegation’s visit, Beijing called on Washington to “stop going further down the wrong path of hollowing out and distorting the one-China principle, so as not to cause further damage to China-US relations and peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait”.

“China will take firm and forceful measures to safeguard its national sovereignty and territorial integrity,” foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin told a regular briefing.

That decades-old threat was reiterated in a white paper published last week when China’s Taiwan Affairs Office said it would “not renounce the use of force” against its neighbour and reserved “the option of taking all necessary measures”.

It added, however: “We will only be forced to take drastic measures to respond to the provocation of separatist elements or external forces should they ever cross our red lines.”—Agencies

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