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On Sunday, China's state-run Global Times gloated that the People's Liberation Army (PLA) held "intensive maritime and air exercises" near Taiwan in an effort to send an intimidating message to Taipei and Washington ahead of a Wednesday meeting between Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA).
The meeting will mark the second time within a year that Taiwan's president will have met with a sitting U.S. House Speaker. The last visit was in August when then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited the island, which provoked a massive show of force from China in the form of numerous PLA drills that surrounded Taiwan and led to Chinese forces breaching the median line in the Taiwan Strait several times.
In an effort to avoid such a reaction over McCarthy's visit, Taipei requested that Washington move the meeting to the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in California. The meeting marks the first time that a Taiwanese president has met with a house speaker on U.S. soil. In response to the meeting, China sent warnings to both Washington and Taipei and put its military on alert.
While the Chinese PLA has already increased its patrols in the Taiwan Strait in recent months, it is expected to further intensify its military drills in the area in response to the meeting.
The Global Times reported on the increased drills saying:
During the joint exercise, teh flotilla practiced more than a dozen training subjects including anti-submarine, anti-ship, live-fire shooting and joint maritime search and rescue, which boosted the sailors' decision-making and coordination capabilities.
In the air, Su-30 and J-10 fighter jets attached to an aviation force under the PLA Eastern Theater Command recently carried otu a confontational air combat drill at midnight, according ot another press release the PLA Eastern Theater Command published Saturday.
The air drill, focusing on regional air defense, air assault under cover and air superiority seizing, enhanced the pilots' all-weather, round-the-clock combat capabilities.
It was also reported that according to a Taiwanese defense press release, the increased PLA presence in the area included 18 PLA aircraft and 4 vessels on Saturday and 10 PLA aircraft along with 3 vessels in the area on Sunday.
Meanwhile, according to an announcement from the Chinese Maritime Safety Administration on Wednesday, "Special joint patrol and inspection operation began today in the central and northern parts of the Taiwan Strait." Ahead of the Tsai-McCarthy meeting, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Mao Ning noted on Tuesday that the meeting of the two officials contradicts the One China Principle.
California is not Tsai's only stop on her 10-day visit, with additional visits planned to 2 Central American states that are part of the 13 countries that officially recognize Taiwan's independence.
In addition to the increase in military drills intended to harass the island, China's Consulate General in Los Angeles also blasted the decision to hold the meeting saying that it was "not conducive to regional peace, security and stability" while also warning that it will "undermine the political foundation" of China-U.S. diplomatic relations.
On Monday the consulate said, "We will closely follow the development of the situation and resolutely safeguard national sovereignty and territorial integrity."
Meanwhile, the White House has urged China not to 'overreact' with national security spokesman John Kirby saying that there is "no reason for China to overreact to the McCarthy-Tsai meeting."
As for McCarthy's stance on the meeting, he has said, "China can't tell me where or when to go, and none of that discussion ever happened. If the president happens to be in America, then I'm going to meet with her."
Tsai has also condemned Beijing's response to the meeting and said that she would not bend to "external pressure" to not meet with McCarthy.
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