Five US lawmakers who arrived in Taiwan on Thursday evening have now met with the island’s president, Tsai Ing-wen, despite warnings from China to cancel the trip.
After the meeting, the president reiterated the cooperation of the two sides in veterans affairs, economic issues and trade while emphasizing 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.
Taiwan has been a point of contention as tensions have risen between the United States and China in recent months. Taiwan has been autonomous since its separation from China after a civil war in 1949. China, however, still considers the island to be part of its territory.
The trip, the second for the US leaders in just a month, came as China stepped up pressure to assert its claims of sovereignty over Taiwan.
The delegation was led by House Veterans Speaker Mark Takano, a Democrat from California. It also included Michigan Rep. Elissa Slotkin, Texan Colin Allred, Californian Sara Jacobs, and Republican South Carolina Rep, Nancy Mace.
In a statement on Twitter, Ms Slotkin said she landed in Taiwan after spending Thanksgiving with US troops in South Korea.
“After stops in Japan and Korea, it will be good to connect with leaders here to discuss a whole host of economic and national security issues,” Slotkin said.
“When news of our trip broke yesterday, my office received a direct message from the Chinese Embassy, telling me to cancel the trip,” she said.
“But just like with the other stops, we’re here to learn more about the region and reaffirm the United States’ commitment to our hosts, the Taiwanese. I look forward to an informative trip, ”added the representative.
In its letter to the US lawmaker, the Chinese Embassy in Taiwan said, “We strongly urge the congresswoman to immediately cancel the planned visit to Taiwan, and not to support and embolden the separatist forces of ‘independence of. Taiwan, “lest it cause enormous damage to the Sino-US relations and the peace and stability of the Taiwan Strait,” reported NBC News.
Tensions have remained high since China’s rapid militarization around Taiwan and US President Joe Biden’s subsequent pledge last month to help Taiwan in the event of an attack on Beijing.
While the United States officially recognizes Beijing’s “one-China policy”, it is providing arms to Taiwan under the Taiwan Relations Act.
This is the third visit by US leaders to the island nation this year.
A few weeks ago, six Republican lawmakers visited the island and met with government officials, including President Tsai, National Security Chief Wellington Koo and Foreign Minister Joseph Wu.
And before that, in June, three members of Congress flew to Taiwan to donate Covid-19 vaccines as the island struggled.
Although the itinerary of the last visit was not disclosed, Ms Slotkin said it would include supply chain issues. “The biggest supplier of electronic chips to the automotive industry is here in Taiwan, so supply chain issues will most likely be on the agenda. “
The visit came a day after Biden invited Taiwan to the upcoming US Democracy Summit next month, drawing criticism from China.
The United States invited 110 countries, including Taiwan, but excluded China and Russia.
In a statement, Zhao Lijian, spokesperson for China’s Foreign Ministry, said, “What the United States has done proves that so-called democracy is just a pretext and a tool to pursue goals. geopolitics, suppress other countries, divide the world, serve its own interests and maintain its hegemony in the world.
Mr Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping clashed at a virtual summit last week when Mr Biden warned of “unilateral efforts to change the status quo” in the Taiwan Strait.
Additional reports by agencies
The Independent Gt