China state media on Tuesday announced that the People's Liberation Army's (PLA) Eastern Theater Command has initiated combat patrols near the Taiwan Strait in response to what it dubbed "secessionist activities".
This on the heels of China's Defense Ministry condemning the "surprise" latest trip by a US Congressional delegation to Taipei, which Beijing officials denounced as "rude interference in China’s internal affairs." The apparently large number of officials that touched down at Taipei's international airport has outraged Chinese leaders as it's looking like the single largest US group to visit the island in years.
The South China Morning Post is reporting of the Tuesday visit to the democratic-run island, which was organized by the US de facto embassy (the American Institute of Taiwan, or AIT), that "The group boarded a US Navy C-40A plane from Manila and arrived at Taipei Songshan Airport at around 6pm, according to Taiwanese news reports."
Though the names included in the Congressional delegation weren't immediately disclosed, Taiwan media is reporting that the group includes four senators, two members of the House of Representatives and seven aides.
Providing confirmation, Taiwan's residential Office Spokesperson Xavier Chang was cited by CNA as describing that the visit involving "US. senators and congressmen was based on mutual trust and coordination between Taiwan and the US."
China's immediate response is detailed in Reuters as follows:
China's military said on Tuesday it conducted a combat readiness patrol in the direction of the Taiwan Strait, after its defense ministry condemned a visit to Taiwan by a U.S. Congressional delegation it said had arrived on a military aircraft.
The patrol was aimed at the "seriously wrong" words and actions of "relevant countries" on the Taiwan issue and the activities of pro-independence forces in Taiwan, a Chinese military spokesperson said in a statement.
"We firmly oppose and strongly condemn this," China's defense ministry said further in response. "We urge the US to immediately stop its provocative moves and all destructive actions that escalate tensions across the Taiwan Straits, and not send a wrong signal to 'Taiwan independence" forces. We warn the DPP authorities not to misjudge the situation or act in a desperate way; otherwise, it will only lead Taiwan into a grave disaster," the spokesperson of the defense ministry added.
Further as state-run Global Times relates, the PLA patrols near the Taiwan Strait have been put on "high alert":
The command will stay on high alert, take necessary measures and strike back on any move that endangers China's core interests and any provocation that threatens the peace and stability in the Taiwan Straits, and firmly safeguard the country's sovereignty and territorial integrity, said Shi.
Chinese defense ministry lodged firm opposition and strong condemnation against some #US congressmen's visit to the island of Taiwan, urging the US to stop provocative actions that escalate tensions across the #TaiwanStraits. pic.twitter.com/oDGKTiVUgR— Global Times (@globaltimesnews) November 9, 2021
Given the large numbers of Congressional leaders and senators in the US delegation, and pending the details of the trip, this is looking to be the largest high-level American government group to visit the island in recent memory.
Likely we are also about to once again witness ramped-up Chinese aerial formations breach Taiwan's air defense identification zone - which have greatly increased in numbers of aircraft of late, sending a further message to pro-independence forces and their external backers.