By HUIZHONG WU, Associated Press
TAIPEI, Taiwan (AP) – Five US lawmakers met Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen on Friday morning on a one-day surprise visit intended to reaffirm “solid” US support for the autonomous island.
The bipartisan group of U.S. House of Representatives lawmakers arrived in Taiwan on Thursday evening and planned to meet with senior leaders, including Tsai, the American Institute in Taiwan, the de facto embassy, said. 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.
“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, D-Mich., Who is part of the delegation, on Twitter.
Political cartoons about world leaders
Representatives Mark Takano, D-Calif., Colin Allred, D-Texas., Sara Jacobs, D-Calif., And Nancy Mace, RS.C., are also part of the visiting 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 and the AIT director at the presidential office in Taipei, noted the cooperation of the two sides in veterans affairs, economic issues and trade while reiterating the close alignment of the island 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.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said on Wednesday, “What the United States has done proves that so-called democracy is just a pretext and a tool to pursue geopolitical goals, suppress other countries, divide the world, serve its own interests and maintain its hegemony in the world.
Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.