China Conducts Drills near Taiwan Strait
Following US moves on the Taiwan front with its congressmen's visit to the island, China launches military drills.
Following a heated visit to the island by a group of US congressmen, the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) conducted a "naval and air force combat readiness patrol" in the Taiwan Strait, according to a spokesperson.
Tensions have risen between Beijing and Washington over the political status of the island of Taiwan, which China considers a part of its national sovereignty.
A delegation of US senators visited the island on Thursday to express support for the Taiwanese government, while Beijing accused them of seeking independence for the island.
The PLA on Friday carried out "a naval and air force combat readiness patrol in the direction of the Taiwan Strait," a spokesperson for the Eastern Theater Command said in a statement.
"This is a necessary measure in response to the current situation in the Taiwan Strait," the spokesperson added, pledging the PLA would "protect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the nation."
"The army will continue to be on high alert and take all necessary measures to counter, at any time, any interference by external forces and any conspiracy by separatists aiming at the so-called 'Taiwan independence."
No additional details regarding the drills were provided.
China's Foreign Ministry stated on Friday that Beijing expressed its "firm opposition" to the US lawmakers' visit, with this being the second time this month that members of the US Congress have visited the island.
Previous Japanese-US drills
The Maritime Self-Defense Force (MSDF) of Japan and the United States Navy conducted their first cooperative anti-submarine training in the South China Sea on Nov. 16, according to the MSDF.
MSDF Chief of Staff Hiroshi Yamamura said at a news conference: "The ability to conduct an advanced (joint) drill in any area of the sea shows a high level of interoperability between Japan and the United States," adding that "it also represents the deterrence and response capability of the MSDF and the U.S. Navy."
In a statement, the MSDF said in a statement released late Tuesday that the anti-submarine warfare (ASW) exercise earlier in the day included one of Japan's largest warships, the Kaga helicopter carrier, as well as a destroyer and a patrol plane.
The USS Milius, an advanced guided-missile Arleigh Burke-class destroyer, and P-8A patrol aircraft from the US Navy also participated in the first such joint drills in the South China Sea.
Russian-Chinese first joint exercise
Russia announced last month the implementation of the first joint naval patrol with China in the Sea of Japan, as part of the joint exercises carried out by the two countries, the naval drills took place between October 14 and 17.
On the other hand, Japan monitored the naval maneuvers that were conducted, as it reported a week ago that a group of ten Chinese and Russian naval vessels passed through the Tsugaru Straits, which separates the main island of Japan and the northern island of Hokkaido.