China described its military exercises near the island of Taiwan as “combat drills” Wednesday. The military activity takes place as former U.S. officials arrive in Taipei to signal President Joe Biden’s support for Taiwan’s democracy.
Taiwan has said that Chinese fighter jets and bombers have entered its air defense zone. A Chinese aircraft carrier has also been performing exercises near the island.
Twenty-five Chinese air force planes, including fighters and bombers, entered Taiwan’s air defense zone on Monday. It is the largest entry into areas controlled by Taiwan reported in recent years.
Chinese spokesman Ma Xiaoguang said the military activity was necessary to answer Taiwan’s independence efforts and “Taiwan-U.S. collusion.” He said that Taiwan’s government is working with “external forces.”
In the past, China has given little explanation for its military movements near Taiwan. Its defense ministry only called them “military activities” in January.
China considers Taiwan a rebel territory although the two sides have had separate governments since 1949.
The United States has not formally recognized Taiwan’s government since 1979. However, the U.S. remains the island democracy’s strongest ally. U.S. officials have been watching the growing tensions with China with concern.
Former U.S. Senator Christopher Dodd and former diplomats Richard Armitage and James Steinberg arrived in Taiwan on Wednesday. A Biden administration official called the visit a “personal signal” of the president’s loyalty towards Taiwan and its democracy. It is not an official U.S. visit.
The three men are meeting Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen on Thursday. Taiwan’s presidential spokesman said the trip “again shows the Taiwan-U.S. relationship is rock solid, and is a full expression” of support for Taiwan in the United States.”
Tsai has said Taiwan is an independent country called the Republic of China.
Mainland Chinese spokesman Ma said the meeting between Tsai and the former U.S. officials would make the situation worse.
Ma said Chinese officials “oppose the U.S. playing the ‘Taiwan card’ and continuing to send wrong signals to Taiwan independence forces.”
Ma also accused Taiwan’s ruling Democratic Progressive Party of seeking independence through military means.
It will “only push Taiwan towards disaster,” he said.
I’m Jill Robbins.
Reuters reported this story. Dan Novak adapted it for VOA Learning English. Mario Ritter, Jr. was the editor.
Words in This Story
zone –n. an area that is different from other areas for a special reason
collusion-n. secret cooperation for an illegal or dishonest purpose
external- n. coming from outside