US lawmakers in Taiwan to meet president amid China tensions

Insight Online News

Taipei, Aug 15 : A US delegation has arrived for talks with Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen, less than two weeks after US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taipei, media reports said.

The move comes days after China reacted sharply to a similar visit by Pelosi with huge military drills that raised fears of conflict in the region.

The unannounced two-day trip came after Beijing sent warships, missiles and jets into the waters and skies around Taiwan, a self-ruled democracy that China’s leaders claim and have vowed to one day seize, the Guardian reported.

The five-member congressional delegation – led by Senator Ed Markey of Massachusetts – was due to hold a meeting with Tsai on Monday followed by a banquet at the foreign ministry.

The American Institute in Taiwan (AIT), the de facto US embassy in Taipei, said Markey is being accompanied by John Garamendi, Alan Lowenthal, Don Beyer and Aumua Amata Coleman Radewagen as part of a larger visit to the Indo-Pacific region.

Their visit would focus on trade, regional security and climate change, Washington’s de facto embassy in Taipei said.

Taiwan’s foreign ministry hailed the visit as another sign of a friendship between Taipei and Washington “that is not afraid of China’s threats and intimidation”.

But the bipartisan trip sparked another caustic response from Beijing, which has drawn down its drills but pressed on with military patrols in the Taiwan Strait, the Guardian said.

State news agency Xinhua published a commentary after the lawmakers’ arrival Sunday with the headline “US politicians should stop playing with fire on Taiwan question”.

It also called the visiting American lawmakers opportunists thinking about their own political interests as November’s midterm elections draw near.

Taiwan’s government has accused Beijing of using Pelosi’s visit as an excuse to kickstart drills that would allow it to rehearse for an invasion.

China’s communist party has never ruled Taiwan but says it will use force if necessary to take the island.

The US switched diplomatic relations from Taipei to Beijing in 1979. But it remains a key ally of Taiwan and maintains de facto diplomatic relations with Taipei.


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