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China began combat drills near the Taiwan Strait on Friday, Reuters reported.

Chinese Defence Ministry spokesman Ren Guoqiang said Friday’s drills were taking place near the Taiwan Strait and involved the People’s Liberation Army’s eastern theatre command. “They are a reasonable, necessary action aimed at the current situation in the Taiwan Strait and protecting national sovereignty and territorial integrity,” Ren said.

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

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.

China’s announcement came as US Undersecretary for Economic Affairs Keith Krach began the first full day of his visit to Taiwan.

He is due to meet President Tsai Ing-wen later in the day, and on Saturday will attend a memorial service for late President Lee Teng-hui.

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