China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) started fresh drills around Taiwan on Monday in response to a congressional delegation that visited the island.
Wu Qian, a spokesman for China’s Defense Ministry, said the military exercises were a “resolute counterstrike and solemn deterrence to the consecutive provocations by the US and Taiwan that undermine peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait.”
Taiwan’s Defense Ministry said it detected five PLA vessels in the area and 30 PLA aircraft, including 15 that crossed the median line that separates the two sides of the Taiwan Strait. China used to avoid crossing the median line, but since Pelosi visited Taiwan on August 2, PLA aircraft have regularly breached the unofficial barrier.
The congressional delegation was led by Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA) and arrived in Taiwan on Sunday, only 12 days after Pelosi’s visit, which resulted in the PLA holding its largest-ever military exercises around Taiwan.
On Monday, Markey’s delegation met with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen and Taiwanese lawmakers. According to Lo Chih-cheng, a legislature of Tsai’s Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), the congressional delegation asked the Taiwanese lawmakers how they felt about the US policy of “strategic ambiguity” and if they would like to see it changed to “strategic clarity.”
The policy of strategic ambiguity means that the US won’t say one way or the other if it would intervene in the event of a Chinese attack on Taiwan. But some hawks in Washington want that policy changed to guarantee a US response, known as strategic clarity, which would significantly raise tensions with Beijing. It’s not clear how the Taiwanese lawmakers responded to the congressional delegation’s questions about the issue.
According to Markey’s office, the purpose of the trip to Taiwan was to meet with “elected leaders and members of the private sector to discuss shared interests, including reducing tensions in the Taiwan Strait and expanding economic cooperation, including investments in semiconductors.”
President Biden recently signed into law the CHIPS and Science Act of 2022, which includes about $52 billion to subsidize domestic semiconductor manufacturing. Taiwan is home to the world’s largest chip-makers, and Washington appears interested in enticing Taiwanese companies to build facilities in the US using the new subsidies.
The frequent congressional delegations to Taiwan signal that the US has no plans to ease tensions with Beijing. Chinese officials have repeatedly warned against such trips, which they view as the US moving away from the one-China policy that was the foundation for Washington and Beijing’s normalization efforts in the 1970s.