China has commenced a three-day military exercise in the Taiwan Strait, as the country continues to express anger over the meeting between Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen and the Speaker of the United States House of Representatives Kevin McCarthy. The drills, named United Sharp Sword, will include exercises to the north and south of the island, as well as in the sea and airspace to the east. The People’s Liberation Army’s Eastern Theatre Command has described the exercises as “combat readiness patrols” and said they are a “serious warning to the Taiwan independence separatist forces and external forces’ collusion and provocation”. China claims Taiwan as part of its own territory and has previously refused to rule out the use of force to reunify it with the mainland.

President Tsai met with McCarthy during a stopover in California on her way back from visiting Central American allies of Taiwan. The meeting has provoked an angry reaction from Beijing, which had threatened retaliation prior to its occurrence. Analysts suggest that the more muted response to the meeting may have been due to the fact it was held in the US or because it coincided with a visit to Beijing by the French President Emmanuel Macron and the European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, which was focused on the Ukraine crisis.

Taiwan’s Defence Ministry has said that it is monitoring the situation and will respond appropriately to defend the island’s security. The ministry has accused China of using Tsai’s visit to the US “as an excuse to carry out military exercises, which has seriously damaged regional peace, stability and security”. The ministry has said that Taiwan will respond with a “calm, rational and serious attitude” to defend its national sovereignty and security.

The United States, which does not have formal diplomatic relations with Taiwan, is the island’s biggest supporter internationally and is bound by law to provide it with the means to defend itself. A delegation of US legislators, led by Michael McCaul, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, is currently visiting Taiwan and met with Tsai for lunch on Saturday. McCaul said the delegation was in Taipei to show its support for the democratic island while Tsai said the people of Taiwan loved democracy and sought peace.

Source: Masimba News ✍🏿

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