Five US lawmakers arrive in Taiwan amid tensions with China

After the visit, Beijing fired five missiles into waters that are part of Japan’s exclusive economic zone, warning Japan and the United States to come to Taiwan’s aid in the event of a conflict. Last week, China completed 72 hours of live fire drills that surrounded Taiwan and that simulated a blockade of the island. The Chinese Air Force continues to fly military aircraft over the centerline of the Taiwan Strait on a daily basis.

China insists that Taiwan, a self-governing democracy backed by US defense capabilities, is its territory. President Xi Jinping has vowed to take Taiwan by force if necessary.

China is very likely to respond to the congressional visit, said Charles Kupchan, a professor of international relations at Georgetown University who served on the National Security Council during the Obama administration.

“I expect Beijing to take steps to express its displeasure, as it did with Pelosi,” Mr Kupchan said. “This is how the confrontation arises.”

After three days of shocking and awe-inspiring military exercises involving fighter jets, warships and missiles, Beijing last week issued a policy paper on Taiwan called a White Paper reiterating Beijing’s determination to make the island part of China.

Given the intensity of China’s response to Ms. Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan, the situation remained “extremely unstable,” said Lyle Goldstein, an expert on China’s military and director of Asia engagement at Defense Priorities, a Washington research group.

The delegation’s visit “may contribute to the escalation cycle we have witnessed over the past five years,” added Mr Goldstein. “The US and China are now on a dangerous collision course.”

Amy Chang Chien reported from Taipei, Taiwan

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