A state-run newspaper in China took aim at three US senators over the weekend in editorials blasting their decision to travel to Taiwan on a military plane to deliver Covid-19 vaccines.
In an editorial published Sunday, editors of The Global Times accused Sens Tammy Duckworth, Dan Sullivan and Chris Coons of “making further provocations” aimed at angering China’s government.
“Three US senators arrived in the island of Taiwan on Sunday morning in a whirlwind visit. They took a military transport aircraft, a US Air Force C-17 Globemaster III, instead of a civilian plane that normally performs such tasks, which has received extra attention,” read the editorial’s English-language version.
“Undoubtedly, the US and island of Taiwan are making further provocations with salami-slicing tactics which they have designed for this provocation,” it continued.
The editorial went on to lambast western media coverage of the event, which noted the “unusual” choice of an Air Force C-17 aircraft for the senators’ visit, and accused Taiwanese media of “amplifying” the significance of the U.S. military’s presence on the island.
“They want to make the landing of C-17 in the island a fact that must be accepted by the mainland [Chinese authorities], paving the way for the US and Taiwan to further escalate their collusion,” the editorial charged.
The US delivery of Covid-19 vaccines was already a controversial prospect for the island before the choice of aircraft was announced. Taiwanese officials have battled with Beijing for months over the Covid-19 outbreak, with Beijing accusing the island of refusing vaccines manufactured on the mainland and Taiwan accusing China of blocking its efforts to purchase vaccines internationally.
Efforts by the US to support Taiwan’s government and the island’s self-governing independence in general are typically met with furious statements from Beijing, which views Taiwan as part of its territory and has vowed as recently as 2019 to pursue reconciliation through military means should any force seek to divide Taiwan from the mainland.
The US Navy has continued to conduct freedom of navigation operations through the Taiwan Strait in the first several months of President Joe Biden’s term, which have also provoked angry responses from China’s government.