China announces military drills around Taiwan after Tsai, McCarthy meet

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TAIPEI: China is set to launch a three-day military drill around Taiwan after President Tsai Ing-Wen returned from a US visit during which she met House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, reported Taiwan News.

The declaration was made following Tsai’s return from a trip to the US, which culminated in a meeting in Los Angeles with McCarthy and other members from both political parties.

The People’s Liberation Army’s Eastern Theatre Command will conduct a “combat readiness patrol” and a “unified sword” exercise in the Taiwan Strait and the airspace to Taiwan’s north, south, and east, Taiwan News reported citing a statement from the Chinese Ministry of National Defense (MOD).

According to China, the drills will commence on Saturday, April 8. The drill, according to the statement, was “planned”.

In addition to the ministry of Defense drill, the Fujian Maritime Safety Administration announced on Friday (April 7) that it would conduct a “live rounds” drill near Luoyuan Wan on April 11, 13, 15, 17 and 20, Taiwan News reported.

There will also be a live rounds drill close to Pingtan on Monday, April 10, the statement read.

Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-Wen met the Speaker of the United States House of Representatives, McCarthy, on Wednesday (local time) in California. This was the first time when Taiwan’s President met with a US House speaker on American soil.

Both leaders briefly shook the hands after her SUV pulled up to the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, northwest of Los Angeles.

The meeting between the two leaders is seen as something China extremely disapproves of and has repeatedly shown opposition to.

Ahead of their meeting, China dispatched several maritime vessels near Taiwan’s coast. On Wednesday night local time, Beijing sent a “large scale patrol and rescue vessel” to the central and northern Taiwan Strait for a three-day “joint patrol and inspection” operation, China’s Fujian Maritime Safety Administration said in a statement.

Taiwan has never been governed by the Chinese Communist Party, but Beijing claims it is part of its territory and seeks “peaceful reunification” with Taiwan.

Tensions escalated between China and Taiwan after the US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi travelled to Taiwan in August last year. China raised objections to Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan, which China claims as part of its territory.

China announced military drills around Taiwan over Pelosi’s visit to the island. (ANI)

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