Update (1200ET): China's defense ministry has declared that this week's surprise visit by American lawmakers "seriously hurt political basis of China-US ties and led to escalation of Taiwan Strait tensions. The People’s Liberation Army 'will take all necessary measures to thwart any external interference in Taiwan affairs and Taiwan independence” scheme.'
* * *
Update (1000ET): Following their meeting with President Tsai and Beijing's display of intimidation, Sen. Lindsey Graham, speaking on behalf of the delegation, told Beijing that the US will start making China "account" for its bullying of Taiwan, and its support for Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.
That should do wonders for US-China relations.
* * *
The cadre of American lawmakers who are currently visiting Taiwan will have the opportunity to witness something that has become a common spectacle for the Taiwanese: CCP jets and bombers cruising overhead.
Beijing was (unsurprisingly) miffed by the "surprise" visit (Nancy Pelosi had canceled a planned trip after conveniently being diagnosed with COVID after the Chinese expressed their displeasure at the idea) and Chinese spokesperson Zhao Lijian responded to the news by declaring that Beijing will "continue take forceful measures to resolutely safeguard national sovereignty and territorial integrity."
An official government twitter account also tweeted the following:
China firmly opposes any form of official interaction between the US and China’s Taiwan region.https://t.co/swLKcsE5IT— Spokesperson发言人办公室 (@MFA_China) April 14, 2022
The bipartisan group of 6 US lawmakers (including members of the House and Senate) flew to Taiwan on Thursday in defiance of China's threats. The group includes: Republican Sens. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Ben Sasse of Nebraska, Richard Burr of North Carolina, and Rob Portman of Ohio, Republican Texas Rep. Ronny Jackson, and Democratic New Jersey Sen. Bob Menendez, according to Fox News.
The lawmakers joined Taiwanese leader President Tsai Ing-wen for a quick photo-op before preparing to depart on Friday.
1/ Taiwan welcomed six US lawmakers this week, in what presidential spokesperson Xavier Chang called a show of "rock solid" support. Photo: Taiwan Gov't. pic.twitter.com/588e6XqPrp— Hong Kong Free Press HKFP (@hkfp) April 15, 2022
But before they could leave, China's military conducted military drills around the island, as a state broadcaster confirmed. The drills are targeted at the "wrong signal" the US has sent about Taiwan, a spokesman for the People's Liberation Army Eastern Theater Command said on Friday, CCTV reported.
Beijing to Sen. Lindsey Graham: Here are some of our frigates, bombers and fighter planes. "This operation is in response to the recent frequent release of wrong signals by the United States on the Taiwan issue."https://t.co/Qg03kDb3sZ— Jonathan Cheng (@JChengWSJ) April 15, 2022
Here's more on the drills from DW:
China held military drills around Taiwan on Friday, officials said, just hours after a high-level US delegation arrived for talks.
The Chinese army sent frigates, bombers and fighter planes to the East China Sea and held multi-arms joint combat readiness patrols in the sea and airspace around Taiwan, according to a government statement.
The move was intended to counter the frequent "wrong signals" by the US government, the statement read, not mentioning the visiting delegation.
"The US bad actions and tricks are completely futile and very dangerous," the statement continued. "Those who play with fire will burn themselves."
For decades, the US has observed the "one China" policy, which involves acknowledging that Taiwan is just a rogue province of China that will someday be reunified, and that diplomatic ties between the US and Taiwan must be strictly limited (although the US is also treaty-bound to protect the Taiwanese in the event of an invasion by the mainland). President Trump started the process of undermining this longstanding policy by accepting a call from the island's president while he was still president-elect in December 2016.
Beijing has recently spoken out against American efforts to sanction Russia for its invasion of Taiwan. They have also warned that "no one and no force" could stop China from taking Taiwan.