China has sent warships and aircraft near Taiwan for a second consecutive day, following Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen’s meeting with US House Speaker Kevin McCarthy. Three Chinese warships sailed in waters surrounding the self-ruled island, while a fighter jet and an anti-submarine helicopter also crossed the island’s air defense identification zone. Beijing, which views Taiwan as part of its territory, had repeatedly warned against the meeting and reiterated that it would take “forceful measures to firmly safeguard national sovereignty.”
Tsai Ing-wen’s Meeting with US House Speaker
Tsai told reporters her government was committed to ensuring “the free and democratic way of life of the people of Taiwan” before she left Los Angeles, where she was stopping on her way back from Latin America. “We also hope to do our best to maintain peace and stability between the two sides,” she added. Last August, China deployed warships, missiles and fighter jets around Taiwan for its largest show of force in years following a trip to the island by McCarthy’s predecessor, Nancy Pelosi.
China’s Response to Tsai-McCarthy Meeting
China’s response to the Tsai-McCarthy meeting has so far been on a much lower level, but still left Taiwan on alert. Premier Chen Chien-jen said on Friday that Taiwan’s defense and security agencies were keeping a close eye on developments, and asked “the public to rest assured.” On Thursday, the defense ministry said three warships had been detected around the Taiwan Strait and one Chinese naval helicopter crossed the island’s ADIZ.
The display prompted calls from the United States asking China “to cease its military, diplomatic and economic pressure against Taiwan and instead engage in meaningful diplomacy”. “We remain committed to maintaining open channels of communication so as to prevent the risk of any kind of miscalculation,” State Department spokesman Vedant Patel told reporters.
McCarthy’s Visit to Taiwan
McCarthy, who is second in line for the US presidency, 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, a move analysts say has so far proven successful.
Arms Sales to Taiwan
McCarthy had vowed that US arms sales to Taiwan, which infuriate Chinese leadership, would continue, in what he said was a proven strategy to dissuade aggression. “And what we know through history, the best way to do that is supply the weapons that allow people to deter war,” he said. Tsai acknowledged the weapons deal on Thursday but did not provide further details. “We have purchased arms from the US and we hope the arms will be delivered on time,” she said.
On Friday, China imposed sanctions on Taipei’s de facto ambassador to the United States, Hsiao Bi-khim, banning her from entering China and accusing her of “deliberately inciting cross-strait confrontation”. Beijing’s foreign ministry also announced sanctions against the Hudson Institute, a Washington-based conservative think-tank, as well as the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, for “providing a platform and facilitating Tsai Ing-wen’s engagement in ‘Taiwan separatism’ activities in the United States”. The two organizations are now barred from engaging in transactions and cooperation with Chinese entities, while four individuals linked to them are blocked from entering or conducting business in China.
China’s recent actions, sending warships and aircraft near Taiwan, come after Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen’s meeting with US House Speaker Kevin McCarthy. China views Taiwan as part of its territory and has warned against any actions it perceives as promoting Taiwanese independence. The US has called for China to cease its military, diplomatic, and economic pressure against Taiwan and engage in meaningful diplomacy instead. McCarthy’s visit to Taiwan, where he promised to continue US arms sales to the island, was seen as a compromise to underscore support for Taiwan while avoiding inflaming tensions with China. China has imposed sanctions on Taipei’s de facto ambassador to the US and two US organizations for their alleged involvement in promoting Taiwan separatism. The situation remains tense, and Taiwan is on high alert.