China begins maneuvers in Taiwan Strait coinciding with US visit

Beijing, Sep 18 (efe-epa).- The Chinese Army said Friday that it is conducting naval and air maneuvers in the Taiwan Strait, “necessary to deal with the current situation” and “defend national unity” in the area, coinciding with the visit of a United States leader, who is meeting with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen.

“The Eastern Command of the People’s Liberation Army organized patrols and maneuvers by the naval and air forces in the Strait of Taiwan to test the level of joint operations,” the Defense Ministry said in a statement published Friday on its website.

“These actions are necessary to deal with the current situation in the Taiwan Strait, they will help improve the ability of the troops to defend national unity and territorial sovereignty,” it added.

According to the statement, the troops “do their duty and have confidence and determination to defeat any force planning or launching any form of separatist activity for the independence of Taiwan.”

The announcement coincides with the visit of the United States Undersecretary of State for Economic Growth, Energy and the Environment, Keith Krach, who arrived on the island Thursday b and will remain until Saturday.

The US delegation is also made up of the Deputy Under Secretary for Democracy, Human Rights and Employment, Robert Destro.

The Taiwanese president is scheduled to receive Krach and the other members of the delegation Friday.

The Americans will attend a Saturday ceremony in which the ashes of the recently deceased former President Lee – considered the father of Taiwanese democracy – will be covered with the national flag. The US delegation will then return to the United States.

According to the Taiwanese press, Krach is the highest US official to visit Taiwan since 1979, when Washington changed its official diplomatic relations with Taipei for Beijing.

However, US Secretary of Health Alex Azar, whose position is similar to that of a minister in the US Government, did the same in August.

This type of visit raises the alarm in Beijing, which bases its diplomatic relations on the principle of “one China” and claims the sovereignty of Taiwan (whose official name is the Republic of China), which it considers a rebel province for whose reunification is has reserved the use of force.

Taiwan has been governed autonomously since 1949, when the nationalist forces of the Kuomintang took refuge on the island after losing the civil war against the Chinese communists.

The visit increases the growing tension between China and the United States, faced in a multidimensional “cold war” that encompasses fronts such as trade, technology or hegemony in Asia. EFE-EPA


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