China sends warships near Taiwan as hackles flare

China sent warships to the waters around Taiwan on Thursday, following a meeting between Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen and the US House Speaker Kevin McCarthy. 

Beijing promised a “determined” response to the high-level talks in California, while the leader of the self-governing island hailed Washington’s “unwavering support”. 

China considers Taiwan a breakaway province and has vowed to reunite the island with the mainland. It has not ruled out using military force to achieve this aim, though claims to favour “peaceful reunification”. 

The US has previously pledged to defend Taiwan in the event of a Chinese invasion. 

After the talks, McCarthy said “continuing arms sales” to Taiwan were the “best way” to protect it from China. 

“It’s an essential lesson we learned from Ukraine,” he told reporters. “Simple sanctions in the future will not stop anyone.” 

Beijing sent three more warships to the strait separating it from Taiwan on Thursday, shortly after deploying an aircraft carrier. It had continually threatened such a response if the meeting took place. 

Anti-submarine helicopters were also detected passing through Taiwan’s air defence zone, while China has deployed coast guard vessels for exceptional patrols, according to the Taiwanese Defence Ministry. 

Speaking to Euronews, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken warned on Wednesday any attempt by China to forcefully change the status quo with Taiwan would hit “quite literally every country on earth.”

The Taiwan Strait is hugely significant for the global economy, with 50% of the world’s commercial traffic going through it each day, according to Blinken. 

Fears of a Chinese invasion have ramped up since the outbreak of war in Ukraine, with relations between the West and Beijing taking a plunge. 

Once under Japanese rule, China has sought to take back Taiwan for more than 70 years. 

Under its “one China” policy, no country is supposed to maintain ties with both Beijing and Taipei. They need to choose. 

Only 13 states recognise Taiwan, including Latin American countries Belize and Guatemala. 

China’s Foreign Ministry described Yesterday’s meeting as “seriously mistaken acts of collusion” between the two states, according to a statement released Thursday morning.

Beijing also urged Washington to “stop going down the wrong and dangerous path.” 

Last August, Beijing launched unprecedented military manoeuvres around Taiwan, after former US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited the island.

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