US military aircraft flies US lawmakers to Taiwan

Media in Taiwan have reported that members of the US Congress flew to Taiwan aboard a US military aircraft on Tuesday. The news drew strong condemnation from China.

Taiwanese broadcaster TVBS reported that members of both the US House of Representatives and Senate visited Taipei.

It aired footage of the aircraft it identified as having transported the US lawmakers. Their names and the purpose of the visit have not been disclosed.

Taiwan's foreign ministry stated that the American Institute in Taiwan is arranging the schedule for the delegation. The ministry declined to provide additional details and said explanations will be forthcoming regarding the purpose of the visit.

It is unusual for US military aircraft to land in Taiwan as the US and Taiwan have no formal diplomatic ties.

The flight followed one in June in which a US military aircraft brought US senators to Taiwan. Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen met them at the airport.

A Chinese defense ministry spokesperson on Tuesday issued a statement condemning the latest visit.

It said, "Taiwan is a sacred and indivisible part of Chinese territory, this action of the US side grossly interfered in China's internal affairs, seriously jeopardized China's territorial sovereignty and severely threatened peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait."

The statement warned the US "to immediately stop its provocative actions, immediately cease all destructive actions that lead to the escalation of tensions in the Taiwan Strait, and stop sending wrong signals to 'Taiwan independence' separatist forces."

A spokesperson of the Chinese military's Eastern Theater Command said on Tuesday that it conducted a combat readiness patrol in the direction of the Taiwan Strait.

The spokesperson said the drill was targeted at a certain country's seriously wrong words and actions on the Taiwan question and Taiwan secessionists' activities, and described it as a necessary measure to safeguard China's sovereignty.