China describes Taiwan exercises as “combat drills” ahead of a US visit.

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On Tuesday, China characterised its military exercises near Taiwan as “combat drills,” just hours before the arrival of senior former US officials in Taipei on a trip to demonstrate President Joe Biden’s loyalty to Taiwan and democracy.

Taiwan has expressed concern about the close proximity of repeated Chinese military action, including fighter jets and bombers breaching its air defence zone and a Chinese aircraft carrier training off the island, all of which are claimed by Beijing.

On Monday, twenty-five Chinese air force aircraft, including fighters and nuclear-capable bombers, infiltrated Taiwan’s air defence identification zone (ADIZ), marking Taipei’s largest recorded incursion to date.

According to China’s Taiwan Affairs Office, Taiwan’s government and rebels were working together with “external forces” to cause trouble and undermine peace and stability.

“The People’s Liberation Army’s organising of actual combat exercises in the Taiwan Strait is a necessary action to address the current security situation in the Taiwan Strait and to safeguard national sovereignty,” spokesman Ma Xiaoguang said.

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“It is a solemn response to external forces’ interference and provocations by Taiwan independence” forces, he added.

The United States, which, like most nations, only formally recognises China’s government and not Taiwan’s, despite being Taipei’s most powerful foreign ally, has seen tensions rise with increasing concern.

Former U.S. Senator Chris Dodd, as well as former Deputy Secretaries of State Richard Armitage and James Steinberg, would arrive in Taiwan later Wednesday, in what a White House official described as a “personal signal” of the president’s dedication to Taiwan and its democracy.

They are scheduled to visit Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen on Thursday, in a trip that could strain Sino-US ties further. Tsai has stated consistently that Taiwan is an autonomous nation known officially as the Republic of China.

“We resolutely oppose the U.S.’ exaggeration of the so-called ‘Chinese military threat’ argument, and resolutely oppose the U.S. playing the ‘Taiwan card’ and continuing to send wrong signals to Taiwan independence forces,” Ma said.

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“Taiwan independence is a dead end and the ruling Democratic Progressive Party are trying to “use arms to seek independence”, he added.

“That is to drink poison in the hopes of slaking ones thirst, and will only push Taiwan towards disaster.”

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