By Wayne Chang and Simone McCarthy, CNN
China’s military said it conducted combat alert patrols and military drills in the waters and airspace around Taiwan on Monday, a day after the arrival of a US congressional delegation to Taipei.
The exercises are “a solemn response to political plays by the US and Taiwan that are undermining the peace and stability of the Taiwan Strait,” Senior Col. Shi Yi of the Eastern Theater Command was quoted as saying on the command’s official Weibo account. “We will take all necessary measures and resolutely defend national sovereignty and the peace and stability of the Taiwan Strait.”
Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defense said 30 Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) warplanes and five vessels were detected in the Taiwan Strait on Monday.
A US congressional delegation led by Sen. Ed Markey arrived in Taipei on Sunday for a previously unannounced two-day visit that came on the heels of a trip from US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi earlier this month.
Pelosi’s visit, the first from a sitting speaker in 25 years, angered Beijing, which responded by launching significant multi-day military exercises around Taiwan.
China’s military said last Wednesday that it had “successfully completed” those exercises, but pledged to “regularly conduct” more patrols in the direction of the Taiwan Strait.
China’s ruling Chinese Communist Party views Taiwan as part of its territory, despite having never controlled it, and has long vowed to “reunify” the island with the Chinese mainland, by force if necessary.
Markey’s five-member delegation visited the self-governed island in an effort to “reaffirm the United States’ support for Taiwan” and to “encourage stability and peace across the Taiwan Strait,” a spokesperson for the senator said in a statement.
At their Monday meeting, Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen thanked the delegation for visiting at a “key moment” and for demonstrating their support for Taiwan with action.
Tsai said that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has highlighted the threat to the world order by authoritarian regimes, and that China’s recent military drills around the island have “severely disrupted” regional peace and stability.
“Taiwan not only worked closely with our international friends, keeping close tabs on all military movements around us, but also kept conveying to the world our resolve to maintain the status quo in the Taiwan strait,” the president said.
Tsai added that Taiwan wishes to “further deepen our cooperation with the US and jointly maintain prosperity and stability in the Indo Pacific region. In the face of global authoritarian expansionism, Taiwan also wishes to deepen trade relations with like-minded democracies, and create a more resilient supply chain.”
In response, Markey praised Tsai for her leadership, saying that he is “honored” to “stand next to Tsai and stand with Taiwan,” according to the statement from the president office.
“In such uncertain times, we have to exert more efforts to ensure Taiwan’s peace and stability. We have a moral obligation to actively prevent any unnecessary conflicts. In responding to this greatest challenge, Taiwan showed unbelievable restraint and discretion,” Markey said.
Taiwan’s Foreign Minister Joseph Wu also thanked the delegation for their visit after hosting the group at the Foreign Ministry on Monday.
“Authoritarian #China can’t dictate how democratic #Taiwan makes friends, wins support, stays resilient & shines like a beacon of freedom,” Wu wrote in a post on the ministry’s Twitter account.
In a statement Monday, China’s Defense Ministry called the congressional delegation’s trip an “ambush visit” that “violates China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.”
The military drills by its Eastern Theater Command were a “solemn deterrent” of “collusion and provocation” by the US and Taiwan, said spokesperson Wu Qian.
Beijing’s Foreign Ministry also decried the congressional visit in a regular news briefing Monday.
Spokesperson Wang Wenbin said China urges the US to “not cause further damage to Sino-US relations and peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait.”
“China will take resolute and strong measures to defend national sovereignty and territorial integrity,” Wang said.
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CNN’s Eric Cheung, Gladys Tsai and Devan Cole contributed to this report.