Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen said on Saturday that Taipei will continue working with the United States and other democracies as the island faces “continued authoritarian expansionism” from China.
Beijing announced three-days of military exercises around Taiwan on Saturday, calling them a “stern warning” to the self-ruled island’s government after Tsai met with US House Speaker Kevin McCarthy in Los Angeles earlier this week.
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Hours after Beijing, which views self-ruled Taiwan as part of its own territory, announced the exercises, Tsai met with a US congressional delegation in Taipei led by House foreign affairs committee chairman Michael McCaul.
“In recent years we have faced continued authoritarian expansionism,” Tsai said at the meeting.
“Cooperation among democracies has become even more important. We will continue to work with the US and other like-minded countries to jointly defend the values of freedom and democracy, she added.
McCaul — who oversees all US military sales to foreign nations — said Washington was working to quickly supply weapons to Taiwan.
“We are doing everything we can in Congress to speed up these sales and get the weapons that you need to defend yourself, and we will provide training to your military, not for war, but for peace,” he said.
“It’s important that all democracies stand together against tyranny and oppression, whether it be (Russian President Vladimir) Putin’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine to Communist China’s acts of aggression against your nation and the Pacific.”
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Dubbed “United Sharp Sword”, China’s three-day operation will run until Monday, the People’s Liberation Army’s (PLA) Eastern Theatre Command said in a statement.
The war games will send planes, ships and personnel into “the maritime areas and air space of the Taiwan Strait, off the northern and southern coasts of the island, and to the island’s east”, said Shi Yin, a PLA spokesman.
Taiwan’s defence ministry on Saturday said it would respond to China’s operation “with a calm, rational, and serious attitude, and monitor the situation based on the principle of ‘not escalating conflicts, nor causing disputes’ to defend our national sovereignty and security”.