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China Starts Military Drills Near Taiwan As US Official Visits

China reportedly began military drills near the Taiwan on Friday, as a senior US official began high-level meetings in Taipei, as tensions rose and Beijing denounced tightening ties between Chinese-claimed Taiwan and the United States.

Chinese Defence Ministry spokesman Ren Guoqiang said Friday’s drills, about which he gave no details, were taking place near the Taiwan Strait and involved the People’s Liberation Army’s eastern theatre command.

Ren said: “They are a reasonable, necessary action aimed at the current situation in the Taiwan Strait and protecting national sovereignty and territorial integrity.”

Taiwan is a purely internal Chinese affair that brooks no foreign interference, he added.

Referring to Taiwan’s ruling party Ren said: “Recently the United States and Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) authorities have stepped up their collusion, frequently creating disturbances.”

Trying to use Taiwan to control China or “rely on foreigners to build oneself up” is wishful thinking and doomed to be a dead end, he added.

“Those who play with fire will get burnt,” he said.

“If the US secretary of state or defence secretary visits Taiwan, People’s Liberation Army fighters should fly over Taiwan island, and directly exercise in the skies above it,” he added.

Taiwan’s Liberty Times newspaper said Taiwan air force jets scrambled 17 times on Friday morning over four hours, warning China’s air force to stay away.

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