TAIPEI, Taiwan (AP) – Five US lawmakers met Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen on Friday in a one-day surprise visit intended to reaffirm “solid” US support for the autonomous island.
The bipartisan group of US House of Representatives lawmakers arrived in Taiwan on Thursday evening and are scheduled to meet with senior leaders, including Tsai, said the American Institute in Taiwan, the de facto US embassy. . No further details were provided on their itinerary.
The visit comes as tensions between Taiwan and China have reached their highest level in decades. Taiwan has been autonomous since the two sides separated in a civil war in 1949, but China considers the island to be part of its own territory.
China was quick to condemn the trip when news broke Thursday night.
“When news of our trip broke yesterday, my office received a direct message from the Chinese Embassy, telling me to cancel the trip,” wrote Representative Elissa Slotkin, a Democrat from Michigan who is part of the delegation, on Twitter.
In Beijing, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian condemned the visit, calling it a violation of the “one-China principle” under which Taiwan is considered part of China.
“The fact that US politicians question the one-China principle and embolden the forces of ‘Taiwan independence’ has aroused the strong indignation of 1.4 billion Chinese,” Zhao said. He added that the unification of Taiwan and China is an “unstoppable historical trend”.
Representatives Mark Takano, D-Calif., Colin Allred, D-Texas., Sara Jacobs, D-Calif., And Nancy Mace, RS.C., are also part of the delegation.
“We are here in Taiwan this week to remind our partners and allies, after two difficult years that we have endured, that our commitment and shared responsibility for a free and secure Indo-Pacific region remains stronger than ever,” said Takano.
Takano added that the US relationship with Taiwan is “rock solid and has remained steadfast as the ties between us have deepened.”
Tsai, who hosted lawmakers at the presidential office in Taipei, noted the cooperation of the two sides in veterans affairs, economic issues and trade while reiterating the island’s close alignment with the United States.
“Taiwan will continue to intensify its cooperation with the United States to uphold our common values of freedom and democracy and to ensure peace and stability in the region,” Tsai said.
This is the third visit by US lawmakers to Taiwan this year and comes just weeks after a group of six Republican members of Congress visited the island. This delegation met with President Tsai, Secretary General for National Security Wellington Koo and Foreign Minister Joseph Wu, among others.
In June, three members of Congress traveled to Taiwan to donate much-needed vaccines at a time when the island was struggling to get enough of it.
The Biden administration also invited Taiwan to a democracy summit next month, a move that drew a sharp rebuke from China.
In Solomon Islands this week, anti-government rioters staged protests and looted parts of the capital in part over complaints about a 2019 decision to transfer diplomatic recognition from Taiwan to China. China has waged a campaign to poach Taiwan’s remaining diplomatic allies.
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