China holds military drills during US official’s Taiwan visit

Drills come as US Under Secretary for Economic Affairs Keith Krach is in Taipei meeting with government officials

Chinese Navy ships

Chinese Navy ships (AP photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — China began military drills near the Taiwan Strait on Friday (Sept. 18) as a senior U.S. official began high-level meetings in Taiwan, according to Reuters.

Chinese Defense Ministry spokesman Ren Guoqiang (任國強) said military exercises were being held near the Taiwan Strait and included the People’s Liberation Army’s (PLA) eastern theater command, without giving specific details. “They are a reasonable, necessary action aimed at the current situation in the Taiwan Strait and protecting national sovereignty and territorial integrity."

Taiwan is a purely internal Chinese affair that brooks no foreign interference, Ren said. “Recently the United States and Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) authorities have stepped up their collusion, frequently creating disturbances,” the spokesman added.

Attempting to “use Taiwan to control China” or "rely on foreigners to build oneself up” is wishful thinking and will not work, he said. “Those who play with fire will get burnt,” Ren added.

The Chinese drills come as U.S. Under Secretary of State for Economic Growth, Energy, and the Environment Keith Krach is in Taiwan to meet with Taiwanese government officials, including President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) later on Friday. Krach is also scheduled to attend a memorial service for late President Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) on Saturday (Sept. 19).

Beijing has recently increased military actions in the Taiwan Strait in an attempt to intimidate Taiwan. On Sept. 9 and 10, China carried out massive joint air and sea exercises off the southwestern coast of Taiwan.