The world is anxiously awaiting China's next move after a group of US lawmakers landed in Taiwan overnight – just 12 days after Nancy Pelosi's controversial visit to the self-governed island.
Tensions have risen significantly in the days since Ms Pelosi's visit, with China retaliating with unprecedented military drills surrounding Taiwan in an effort to deter internal and external "separatists".
The defiant move from the US amid a wave of warnings from China will undoubtedly enrage Beijing which claims democratic Taiwan as its own territory as part of the One-China Principle.
Senator Ed Markey, who is being accompanied by four House lawmakers, landed in Taipei on Sunday evening, and the group is set to meet Taiwan president Tsai Ing-wen on Monday.
EXCLUSIVE/BREAKING: A USAF jet, carrying a Senator-Congressional delegation is due to arrive in Taipei shortly. This visit comes after @SpeakerPelosi’s visit just 12 days ago, and the PLA conducted large-scale military exercises around Taiwan thereafter. pic.twitter.com/TcygAVH67q
— Tingting Liu 劉亭廷 (@tingtingliuTVBS) August 14, 2022
And while it was Ms Pelosi's stature as US House Speaker that fuelled Beijing's rage, it had warned last week any visit from the US was unwelcome.
"We have always opposed visits to Taiwan by members of the US Congress," China's foreign ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin told reporters on Wednesday after being pressed on previous US visits to Taiwan.
"The US has been going further down the path of fudging, hollowing out and distorting the one-China principle.
"China will not hesitate to fight back each time the US makes a serious provocation that violates China’s sovereignty and interferes in China’s internal affairs. We will never allow our sovereignty and territorial integrity to be trampled and sabotaged."
Ms Tsai's office said the visiting party's arrival signified "the United States Congress' firm support for Taiwan".
The co-leaders of the visit are Representative John Garamendi of the congressional Nuclear Weapons and Arms Control Working Group and Representative Don Beyer, a spokesperson for Mr Markey said.
Vice Minister Yui extended the warmest of welcomes to #Taiwan’s🇹🇼 longstanding friend @SenMarkey & his cross-party delegation comprising @RepGaramendi, @RepLowenthal, @RepDonBeyer & @RepAmata. We thank the like-minded #US🇺🇸 lawmakers for the timely visit & unwavering support. pic.twitter.com/XZKoKhnPZO
— 外交部 Ministry of Foreign Affairs, ROC (Taiwan) 🇹🇼 (@MOFA_Taiwan) August 14, 2022
Chinese embassy blasts latest visit
China's embassy in Washington called the latest visit further evidence the US is attempting to ramp up tensions.
"[The visit] once again proves that the U.S. does not want to see stability across the Taiwan Straits and has spared no effort to stir up confrontation between the two sides and interfere in China's internal affairs," it said.
While China's drills around Taiwan have abated, it is still carrying out military activities.
Eleven Chinese military aircraft crossed the Taiwan Strait's median line or entered Taiwan's air defence zone on Sunday, Taiwan's Defence Ministry said.
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