TAIPEI, Taiwan (AP) — China’s Defense Ministry on Thursday denounced U.S. and U.K. affirmations of support for Taiwan’s newly elected government, shortly after the island claimed by Beijing freely chose its new leaders.

Col. Wu Qian accused the United Kingdom of pursuing a “Cold War” mentality and attempting to “instigate confrontation.”

The comments Thursday came after a a U.S. congressional delegation met with Taiwan’s new leader, Lai Ching-te, on Monday in a show of support, shortly after China held drills around Taiwan in response to his inauguration speech.

Despite their lack of formal diplomatic ties — a Cold War concession to Beijing — the United States and Taiwan remain close security, cultural and political partners. Washington is Taiwan’s biggest provider of military hardware and maintains a de facto embassy on the island to underscore their strong ties.

China regularly sends navy ships and warplanes close to Taiwan to advertise its threat to use force to annex what it declares its own territory, which it often describes as a “sacred mission.” Taiwan was only made a Chinese province in 1885, and shortly afterward, became a Japanese province for 50 years until the end of World War II. It then separated from mainland China amid civil war in 1949 and was ruled under strict martial law until the late 1980s when it began to embrace full democracy.

During the U.S. congressional visit on Monday, Rep. Andy Barr, the co-chair of the Taiwan caucus in the U.S. Congress, said the United States is fully committed to supporting Taiwan militarily, diplomatically and economically.

“There should be no doubt, there should be no skepticism in the United States, Taiwan or anywhere in the world, of American resolve to maintain the status quo and peace in the Taiwan Strait,” the Republican from Kentucky said at a news conference after the delegation met with Lai.

Taiwan’s new foreign minister, Lin Chia-lung, noted the recent Chinese drills and called the American delegation’s visit “an important gesture of solidarity” at a critical time.

The delegation included both Republicans and Democrats and was led by Rep. Michael McCaul, the chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. The Texas Republican was sanctioned by China last year after he visited Taiwan in April.

The other members were Republicans Young Kim from California and Joe Wilson from South Carolina, and Democrats Jimmy Panetta from California and Chrissy Houlahan from Pennsylvania.

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