U.S. condemns Chinese military exercises in Taiwan Strait

08/15/2020 12:42 PM
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A previous military exercise by the PLA Eastern Theater Command (photo taken from weibo.com/u/7483054836)
A previous military exercise by the PLA Eastern Theater Command (photo taken from weibo.com/u/7483054836)

Washington, Aug. 14 (CNA) The United States State Department on Friday said it "strongly objects" to China's attempts to "coerce" Taiwan, one day after the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) announced that it had recently conducted military exercises in the Taiwan Strait.

In a statement to CNA, a State Department spokesperson said the U.S. has consistently conveyed to China that it "strongly objects to its attempts to coerce Taiwan."

"We urge Beijing to honor its commitments to pursue a peaceful resolution of the Taiwan issue, return to dialogue with the democratically elected representatives of the people on Taiwan, and cease military provocations, as well as efforts to isolate Taiwan diplomatically and economically," the statement said.

The U.S. response came a day after Zhang Chunhui (張春暉), a spokesperson for the PLA Eastern Theater Command, said China had "recently" carried out combat exercises in the Taiwan Strait, according to the state-run newspaper China Daily.

In a statement quoted by the website, Zhang condemned "negative acts by some foreign nations" which he said sent misleading signals to "separatist forces" and posed a threat to regional peace and security.

Zhang's comments were apparently in reference to U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar's visit to Taiwan earlier this week.

Azar's visit, the first by a U.S. Cabinet official since 2014 and the highest level since 1979, drew criticism from China, which views Taiwan and the mainland as a part of one country and opposes it having official contacts with other nations.

On Monday, the second day of Azar's Aug. 9-12 visit, two Chinese warplanes briefly crossed the Taiwan Strait median line into the Taiwan half of the waterway, according to Air Force Headquarters.

Relations between the U.S. and China have been tense in recent months, amid conflicts on issues including the COVID-19 pandemic, trade and human rights.

On Thursday, Taiwan's Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) issued its own condemnation of the Chinese military exercises, saying the country would never yield to provocations by Beijing and that any acts of intimidation will be strongly opposed.

(By Stacy Hsu and Matthew Mazzetta)


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