China holds military drill as US envoy visits Taiwan

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President Tsai Ing-wen on Friday described American Under Secretary of State Keith Krach’s visit to Taiwan as a “milestone for a deepened Taiwan-U.S. relationship” during a banquet she hosted for Krach and his delegation, who are in Taiwan for a three-day visit.

The banquet was held at Tsai’s official residence in Zhongzheng District, Taipei and was not opened for media coverage.

According to a press statement issued later by the Presidential Office, Tsai thanked Krach and his delegation for visiting Taiwan and relaying the U.S. government’s support for Taiwan’s democracy.

Tsai also expressed hope that future cooperation and dialogue between Taiwan and the U.S. can proceed smoothly.

On Friday, Undersecretary of State Keith Krach, who handles the economic growth, energy and the environment portfolio, held talks with Taiwan’s minister of economic affairs and the Cabinet’s vice premier.

In response to Krach’s visit, China’s PLA held combat exercises near the Taiwan Strait, at least the second round of war games this month aimed at intimidating supporters of the island’s independent political identity.

Taiwan said Chinese warplanes entered its airspace over two days last week during large-scale war games that it called a “serious provocation to Taiwan and a grave threat to regional peace and stability.”

“This is a legitimate and necessary action taken in response to the current situation across the Taiwan Straits to safeguard national sovereignty and territorial integrity,” said China’s Defense Ministry spokesman Ren Guoqiang.

In a brief message on its microblog, the Eastern Theater Command said the exercises involved naval and air force units in the Taiwan Strait aimed at gauging their ability to carry out joint operations.

China on Thursday condemned Krach’s visit and warned it could retaliate. It views Taiwan as part of its own territory and strongly opposes any type of formal interaction between other countries and the self-ruled island democracy.

Krach’s trip follows a visit in August by US Health Secretary Alex Azar, the highest-level US Cabinet official to make the trip since the US switched formal relations from Taiwan to China in 1979.

It is one of a series of moves by the Trump administration to strengthen relations with Taiwan, including stepped-up arms sales and support for the island’s participation in international forums.

Before Krach’s arrival, the US ambassador to the United Nations, Kelly Craft, had lunch Wednesday with Taiwan’s top official in New York, in a meeting she called historic.

On Saturday, the last day of his visit, Krach will also attend a memorial service for former President Lee Teng-hui, who led the island’s transition to democracy and died at age 97 in July.

Krach is the highest ranking U.S. State Department official to visit Taiwan since 1979, when Washington switched diplomatic recognition from the Republic of China to the People’s Republic of China.

Edited by staff

Source: FocusTaiwan/BBC/Yahoo News

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