China deploys warships near Taiwan after President Tsai meets US House Speaker

By ANI | Published: April 8, 2023 09:31 PM2023-04-08T21:31:53+5:302023-04-08T21:35:17+5:30

Taipei [Taiwan], April 8 : China deployed warships through waters around Taiwan on Thursday as it vowed a "firm ...

China deploys warships near Taiwan after President Tsai meets US House Speaker | China deploys warships near Taiwan after President Tsai meets US House Speaker

China deploys warships near Taiwan after President Tsai meets US House Speaker

Taipei [Taiwan], April 8 : China deployed warships through waters around Taiwan on Thursday as it vowed a "firm and forceful" response to Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen meeting US House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, Channel News Asia (CNA) reported.

McCarthy, the third highest-ranking official in the US leadership hierarchy met Tsai on Wednesday with other Republican and Democratic lawmakers at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California.

China had repeatedly warned both sides that the meeting should not take place and it also deployed an aircraft carrier through waters southeast of Taiwan hours before the talks, CNA reported.

Three additional warships were detected in waters separating the island from mainland China, Taiwan's Ministry of National Defence said on Thursday morning.

An anti-submarine helicopter had also crossed the island's air defence identification zone, according to the ministry, CNA reported.

And China deployed coastguard vessels for unusual patrols that sparked a protest from Taiwan.

Despite Taiwan having been ruled separately for more than 70 years, China views it as part of its territory and has vowed to one day seize it, by force if necessary, CNA reported.

China carried out its largest-ever air and sea exercises around Taiwan following a visit in August last year by McCarthy's predecessor, Nancy Pelosi, to the island.

China then deployed warships, missiles and fighter jets into the waters and skies around Taiwan.

Its response to the McCarthy meeting has so far been on a much lower level, but still left Taiwan on high alert, CNA reported.

Taiwan's defence minister described the timing of the deployment of the Shandong, one of just two Chinese aircraft carriers, as "sensitive".

"When an aircraft carrier comes out, there are usually takeoffs and landings for aircraft but we have not found any takeoff or landing. We will keep watching," Chiu Kuo-cheng, Minister of National Defense of the Republic of China told reporters.

China has sailed its aircraft carriers near Taiwan before and at similarly sensitive times.

In March of last year, the Shandong sailed through the Taiwan Strait, just hours before the Chinese and US presidents were due to talk, CNA reported.

The US aircraft carrier the USS Nimitz is also about 400 nautical miles east of Taiwan, Chiu said.

"It can't be said it's here for us, but as soon as this situation happened - it's all related," he added.

The US Navy did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Tsai's visit to California was technically a stop-over after a trip to Latin America to see two of Taiwan's dwindling band of official diplomatic allies.

China had repeatedly issued warnings ahead of the Tsai-McCarthy meeting and issued another strong rebuke Thursday afternoon.

"China will take firm and forceful measures to firmly safeguard national sovereignty and territorial integrity," foreign ministry spokeswoman Mao Ning said at a regular briefing.

China's Defence Ministry condemned the McCarthy meeting but did not threaten specific action.

"The Chinese People's Liberation Army adheres to its duties and missions, maintains a high degree of alert at all times, resolutely defends national sovereignty and territorial integrity, and resolutely maintains peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait," it said in a statement, CNA reported.

McCarthy had originally planned to go to Taiwan himself but opted instead to meet Tsai in California.

The decision was viewed as a compromise that would underscore support for Taiwan but avoid inflaming tensions with China.

McCarthy said after meeting Tsai that a shared belief in freedom and democracy underpinned a relationship that was "a matter of profound importance to the free world".

McCarthy vowed US arms sales to Taiwan, which infuriate Chinese leadership, would continue, in what he said was a proven strategy to dissuade aggression, CNA reported.

"And what we know through history, the best way to do that is to supply the weapons that allow people to deter war," he said.

"It is a critical lesson that we learned through Ukraine, that the idea of just sanctions in the future is not going to stop somebody" who wants to wage war.

An eight-member US congressional delegation also arrived in Taiwan on Thursday to hold talks on trade and security - such visits have increased in recent years.

Ko Cheng-heng, deputy head of Taiwan's National Security Bureau, told lawmakers on Thursday that they did not expect such a strong reaction from China as what followed Pelosi's trip.

"What the Chinese communists care more about is whether McCarthy will visit Taiwan," he said.

China is also trying to show a more diplomatic face to the world, Ko said, noting that French President Emmanuel Macron and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen are currently in Beijing.

"So at the moment, they are continuing to put on a more peaceful, great power image."

Taiwan is also concerned about China's announcement late Wednesday that its maritime safety administration is to inspect ships in the Taiwan Strait, including possibly boarding them.

Taiwan has told shipping operators that if they encounter such requests from China they should refuse them and immediately notify Taiwan's coast guard to render assistance.

Defence Minister Chiu said Taiwan will react if Chinese patrol ships cross the Taiwan Strait's median line, which normally serves as an unofficial barrier between the two sides.

Disclaimer: This post has been auto-published from an agency feed without any modifications to the text and has not been reviewed by an editor

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