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FirstFT: China ratchets up military drills around Taiwan

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Good morning. China yesterday announced another round of military maneuvers around Taiwan in response to the visit of a US congressional delegation, a move that is boosting Beijing’s efforts to isolate the island nation.

The announcement came after Democratic Senator Ed Markey and four members of the U.S. House of Representatives from both sides of the aisle landed in Taiwan on Sunday night and met President Tsai Ing-wen on Monday morning.

The Chinese Defense Ministry said the visit was a flagrant violation of previous agreements and China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.

“[It] sends the wrong message to separatist forces of ‘Taiwan independence’ and shows the true face of the US as a disruptor and destroyer of peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait,” the ministry said.

Beijing’s fierce response to the latest US delegation is raising concerns in Taiwan and elsewhere that Chinese leaders are trying to impose a new status quo, discouraging foreign politicians and officials from engaging with the island’s government.

The new “joint patrols and exercises for multiple services of the People’s Liberation Army” come just five days after it completed the week-long exercises following the visit of US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to Taiwan. China said last week that those exercises had succeeded in “destroying” the median line in the Taiwan Strait, an unofficial buffer zone, and that the PLA would patrol the island regularly from now on.

Since then, PLA planes and warships have conducted daily maneuvers around Taiwan in numbers far greater than before Pelosi’s visit and in areas near Taiwan where they were infrequent before the current crisis.

According to Taiwan’s defense ministry, there were 96 Chinese military aircraft operating around the island between Thursday and Sunday — after Beijing said the exercises were over but it would keep a close eye on Taiwan and the US and conduct frequent patrols. in the area.

Happy Tuesday and thanks for reading FirstFT Asia. —Ethan

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