The drills included firing multiple ballistic missiles into waters off Taiwan – some of the world’s busiest shipping routes…reports Asian Lite News
Beijing’s recent decision to fire missiles over Taiwan is a “gorilla in the room” that has to be contested, a top US military commander said Tuesday, it was reported.
“It’s very important that we contest this type of thing. I know that the gorilla in the room is launching missiles over Taiwan,” Seventh Fleet Commander Vice Admiral Karl Thomas told reporters in Singapore.
“If we just allow that to happen, and we don’t contest that, that’ll be the next norm,” the Commander added.
Eastern Theatre Command of the People’s Liberation Army carried out massive military drills this month around Taiwan following visit by a US Congressional delegation led by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
The drills included firing multiple ballistic missiles into waters off Taiwan – some of the world’s busiest shipping routes.
“It’s irresponsible to launch missiles over Taiwan into international waters, where the shipping lanes, where free shipping operates.”
The Seventh Fleet is based in Japan and is a core part of Washington’s navy presence in the Pacific.
Meanwhile, five US lawmakers visiting Taiwan on Monday met Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen and other lawmakers in a show of support for Taiwan amid escalated tensions across the Taiwan Strait.
The US congressional delegation arrived on Sunday for a surprise two-day visit.
China increased pressure on Taiwan both militarily and economically after Pelosi’s 19-hour visit to Taipei on August 2-3.
The delegation includes Republicans and Democrats and is made up of Senator Ed Markey and Representatives John Garamendi, Alan Lowenthal, Don Beyer and Aumua Amata Coleman Radewagen.
Local TV reports showed the lawmakers entering the presidential office to meet with Tsai on Monday then heading to the parliamentary building nearby.
Legislator Lo Chih-cheng of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) told reporters that issues discussed at a meeting with US lawmakers include future Taiwan-US military cooperation.
Lo said the US group’s visit at such a sensitive time, coming shortly after China’s large-scale drills near Taiwan, shows that Beijing cannot prevent leading political figures from around the world from visiting Taiwan.
“Their arrival also delivers an important message that American people are standing with Taiwanese people,” Lo said.
Tsai’s office has not released any details about the meeting.
“I’m travelling to Taiwan with a bipartisan congressional delegation to reaffirm US support for Taiwan and encourage stability and peace across the Taiwan Strait,” Markey said on Twitter.
In Beijing, China’s Defence Ministry spokesperson Wu Qian said on Monday that the visit by the US delegation undermined China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.
Taiwan has had an independent government since 1949, but China considers the island part of its territory.
Beijing rejects official contacts between other countries and Taipei.