China announced new military drills around Taiwan on Monday, as a delegation of U.S. lawmakers met with Taiwanese officials at a time of heightened tensions in the region, with Beijing accusing the United States of “playing cheap political tricks” by strengthening its unofficial relationship with the self-governing democracy.
China’s Taiwan Affairs Office also warned Taiwan’s leaders that they would be “severely punished” if they continued to provoke Beijing.
The delegation of five members of Congress, led by Sen. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), were expected to meet with President Tsai Ing-wen during an overnight stop in Taipei as part of a larger tour of Asia, according to a statement from the American Institute in Taiwan. Taiwan had not released details of the meeting by midafternoon Monday local time.
In a statement on Monday, Ma Xiaoguang, a spokesman for the Taiwan Affairs Office in Beijing, said China opposes the lawmakers’ trip and warned of unspecified consequences if Taiwan’s leaders “failed to restrain themselves.”
“Certain individuals in the United States haven’t learned that lesson from the consequences of Pelosi’s visit,” he said.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin also criticized the delegation, saying it was sending “seriously wrong signals” to “separatist forces” in Taiwan.
Beijing’s reaction on Monday was less fiery than its response to the visit of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) two weeks earlier, which sparked the largest display of Chinese military saber rattling since the 1995-1996 Taiwan Strait crisis.