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Image: CCTV Video News Agency

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China slams US lawmakers’ visit to Taiwan: ‘Those who play with fire will burn themselves’

  • The Chinese military sent frigates, bombers and fighter planes near Taiwan during the visit of six U.S. lawmakers to the island state on Friday.

  • “This operation is in response to the recent frequent release of wrong signals by the United States on the Taiwan issue,” the People’s Liberation Army said in a statement.

  • Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian said the move was “a countermeasure to the recent negative actions of the U.S., including the visit of a delegation of lawmakers to Taiwan.”

  • The bipartisan group, led by Sen. Lindsey Graham, met with President Tsai Ing-wen to express support for Taiwan, saying, “To abandon Taiwan would be to abandon democracy and freedom.”

China said it conducted military drills near Taiwan as a response to U.S. lawmakers’ official visit to the island nation on Friday.

The People’s Liberation Army Eastern Theater Command said in a statement that the Chinese military sent frigates, bombers and fighter planes to the East China Sea and the area around Taiwan while the U.S. delegation held a news conference in Taipei.

“This operation is in response to the recent frequent release of wrong signals by the United States on the Taiwan issue,” the statement read. “The U.S. bad actions and tricks are completely futile and very dangerous. Those who play with fire will burn themselves.”

The move was “a countermeasure to the recent negative actions of the U.S., including the visit of a delegation of lawmakers to Taiwan,” according to Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian.

He added that China would “continue to take strong measures to resolutely safeguard its sovereignty and territorial integrity.”

A separate statement from China’s defense ministry called the U.S. visit “deliberately provocative” which had “led to further escalation of tension in the Taiwan Strait.”

The bipartisan group, composed of Sens Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Richard Burr (R-NC), Robert Portman (R-OH), Benjamin Sasse (R-NE) Ronny Jackson (R-TX) and Bob Menendez (D-NJ) landed in Taiwan on Thursday and met with Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen the next day.

During their meeting, Sen. Graham told President Tsai Ing-wen that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and China’s aggression have solidified a common viewpoint in the U.S.

“To abandon Taiwan would be to abandon democracy and freedom,” said the Republican senator. “There’s a backlash growing in the world to thuggery — to the bad guys.”

Meanwhile, Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Sen. Menendez called Taiwan a “country of global significance.”

Beijing, which considers Taiwan as one of its provinces, has expressed fury in the past over such reference to the island state as a “country.”

China has notably increased its military activity near Taiwan in recent years, frequently conducting air force flights into Taiwan’s air defense zone.

Just last month, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hya Chunying stated that Taiwan as an “inalienable” part of China’s territory is “an irrefutable historical and legal fact.”

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