TAIPEI, Taiwan (AP) — A delegation of U.S. lawmakers arrived in Taiwan on Sunday, just 12 days after U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited which has prompted China to launch days of threatening military exercises around the self-governing island which Beijing says must come under its control.
The five-member delegation, led by Democratic Senator Ed Markey of Massachusetts, will meet with President Tsai Ing-wen and other officials, as well as members of the private sector, to discuss common interests, including reducing tensions in the Taiwan Strait and investment in semiconductors.
China responded to Pelosi’s visit on August 2 by sending missiles, warships and warplanes into the seas and skies around Taiwan for several days afterwards. The Chinese government opposes Taiwan having official contact with foreign governments, especially with a high-ranking congressional leader like Pelosi.
A Taiwanese broadcaster showed video of a US government plane landing around 7 p.m. Sunday at Songshan Airport in Taiwan’s capital Taipei. Four members of the delegation were on the plane.
Markey met South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol earlier Sunday in South Korea before arriving in Taiwan on a separate flight at Taoyuan International Airport, which also serves Taipei. Markey, who chairs the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on East Asia, the Pacific, and International Cybersecurity, and members of the delegation will reaffirm U.S. support for Taiwan.
Other members of the delegation are Republican Representative Aumua Amata Coleman Radewagen, a delegate from American Samoa, and House Democrats John Garamendi and Alan Lowenthal from California and Don Beyer from Virginia.
Chinese warplanes continued to cross the midpoint of the Taiwan Strait daily even after military drills ended last Wednesday, with at least 10 of them on Sunday, Taiwan’s Defense Ministry said.
The 10 fighter jets were among 22 Chinese military aircraft and six warships detected in the Taiwan area as of 5 p.m. Sunday, the ministry said on his Twitter account.
A senior White House Asian policy official said late last week that China had used Pelosi’s visit as a pretext to launch an escalated pressure campaign against Taiwan, jeopardizing peace and stability in the country. the Taiwan Strait and the wider region.
“China has overreacted and its actions continue to be provocative, destabilizing and unprecedented,” Kurt Campbell, deputy aide to President Joe Biden, said in a call with reporters.
“He sought to ignore the median line between the PRC and Taiwan, which has been respected by both sides for more than 60 years as a stabilizing feature,” he said, using the acronym of the full name of the country, the People’s Republic of China.
China accuses the United States of encouraging pro-independence forces in Taiwan by selling military equipment to the island and engaging with its officials. The United States says it does not support Taiwan independence but that its differences with China should be resolved through peaceful means.
China’s ruling Communist Party has long said it supports Taiwan’s peaceful joining of China, but would not rule out force if necessary. The two separated in 1949 during a civil war in which the communists took control of China and the losing nationalists retreated to the island of Taiwan.
Campbell, speaking on Friday, said the United States would send warships and planes through the Taiwan Strait in the coming weeks and is developing a roadmap for trade talks with Taiwan which he said the United States intended to announce in the coming days.
Moritsugu reported from Beijing.