China said yesterday that it had recently conducted combat exercises around Taiwan, and warned the United States against military collusion with the island nation.
The statement was released a day after US senator Rick Scott reached Taipei on a two-day visit to meet Taiwanese president Tsai Ing-wen.
China, which maintains that Taiwan is a part of its national territory even though Taipei has ruled itself since 1949, has beefed up its military activities around the east Asian nation.
The Chinese defence ministry said that the military exercises, announced by the Eastern Theatre Command of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), were organised in response to “provocations” by the US and Taiwan.
China has been wary of any form of official interaction between Taiwan and the US, and has often described the island nation as a point of contention with Washington.
Several Chinese fighter jets crossed the median line of the Taiwan Strait in the northern part of the waterway, but did not enter Taiwanese airspace.
The aircraft “flew straight across” the median line and then “circled around”, carrying out tactical operations as Taiwan scrambled to intercept Chinese jets, a source said. “It was a clear message of provocation,” the person added.
The Chinese military conducted a similar exercise in May as a “solemn warning” after US president Joe Biden signalled a change in the policy of “strategic ambiguity” on Taiwan by saying America would get involved militarily if China attacked the island.
In June, Taiwan scrambled combat aircraft to warn away a fleet of 29 Chinese jets, including bombers, that entered its air defence zone in one of the largest incursions.
Meanwhile, yesterday, Beijing asked Washington to cease “military collusion” with Taiwan.
During a virtual meeting between the joint chiefs of staff of the two countries, China’s General Li Zuocheng told General Mark Milley that he had “no room for compromise”.
“China demands the US… cease reversing history, cease US-Taiwan military collusion and avoid impacting China-US ties and stability in the Taiwan Strait,” General Li said.
The PLA would “resolutely safeguard national sovereignty and territorial integrity,” he added.
The crucial meeting comes a month after Chinese defence minister Wei Fenghe accused the US of trying to “hijack” the support of countries in the Asia-Pacific region to turn them against Beijing.