China stationed warships around Taiwan and a PLA anti-submarine helicopter crossed Taiwan's air defense zone on Thursday as Beijing angrily responded to a high-profile meeting between Taiwanese President Tsai ing-wen and US House Speaker Kevin McCathy.
China, which had warned against Tsai's meeting with the top US leadership, vowed a "firm and forceful" response to what it calls Taipei's provocation.
'High Degree of Alert'
"The Chinese People's Liberation Army adheres to its duties and missions, maintains a high degree of alert at all times, resolutely defends national sovereignty and territorial integrity, and resolutely maintains peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait," the Chinese defense ministry said in a statement, according to Channel News Asia.
The Chinese foreign ministry also strongly condemned the meeting between Tsai and McCarthy. "China will take firm and forceful measures to firmly safeguard national sovereignty and territorial integrity," foreign ministry spokeswoman Mao Ning said.
The Chinese move came after McCarthy, the third highest ranking official in the US, met the visiting Taiwanese leader in California on Wednesday.
Using Military Force
China considers self-ruling Taiwan as a rogue regime and vows that it will reunify the territory eventually. China has not ruled out using military force to reunify the island to the mainland. Beijing, which uses all diplomatic powers to isolate Taiwan in the international space, sees the US support to Taipei as an affront on its own territorial integrity.
Hours before Tsai's talks with the US leadership, China deployed its Shandong aircraft carrier through waters southeast of Taiwan. According to Taiwanese officials, Beijing deployed three more warships in waters separating the island from mainland China. Besides this, the PLA also deployed an anti-submarine helicopter, which then crossed into Taiwan's air defence identification zone. China also deployed coastguard vessels in the region, reports from Taiwan said.
In August last year, China carried the largest ever military drill around Taiwan after former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited Taipei.
Following this, the US bumped up its military support to Taipei, approving the sale of weapons worth around $620 million. The new weapons to be sold to Taiwan included missiles for its F-16 fleet.
US Boosts Aid
The Pentagon also said it would give Taiwan 200 anti-aircraft Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Missiles (AMRAAM) and 100 AGM-88B HARM missiles. "The proposed sale will contribute to the recipient's capability to provide for the defence of its airspace, regional security, and interoperability with the United States," the Pentagon said.
Meanwhile, Taiwan's defense minister said US aircraft carrier the USS Nimitz is stationed about 400 nautical miles east of Taiwan. "It can't be said it's here for us, but as soon as this situation happened - it's all related," defense minister Chiu Kuo-cheng said, according to CNA.