Tue. Jun 18th, 2024

U.S. lawmakers arrive in Taiwan days after new president takes office

By 37ci3 May26,2024



TAIPEI, Taiwan — A bipartisan group of U.S. lawmakers has arrived Taiwan Sunday, days after Beijing claimed the island the new president took office with warning Demon to stop their threats.

The six members of the House of Representatives are the first group of US officials to meet with Taiwan’s president Lai Ching-te and came after China two days of “punishment” exercises have ended around the island in response to what he described as “separatist movements”.

“I think it is very important that we show our strong support to Taiwan. I think this is a deterrent,” said the deputy. Michael McCaulNBC News told NBC News that House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman R-Tex.

The McCaul-led delegation is his second on the island and also includes Reps. Kim Young, Rep. Joe Wilson, R-Calif., Andy Barr, R-Ky., Jimmy Panetta, D-Calif. and Chrissy Houlahan, D-Pa.

Although lawmakers from the US and other countries regularly visit Taiwan, China views these visits as provocation and support for the separatist forces of “Taiwan independence”.

As with McCaul’s first delegation to Taiwan in April 2023, Chinese officials opposed the current visit.

In an email first obtained by NBC News, a Chinese embassy official warned McCall against the trip and described Lai’s inauguration speech on Monday as “the worst speech ever by Taiwan’s new leader.”

“This proves once again that Mr. Lai has chosen a course of independence and is on track to implement it,” the letter said.

Like most of the Taiwanese public, Lai, 65, who has been the island’s vice president for the past four years, has said he favors maintaining the status quo, neither formally declaring independence nor becoming part of China.

Speaking at a meeting of the Democratic Progressive Party on Sunday, Lai thanked the United States and other countries for their support and said he “looks forward to increasing mutual understanding and reconciliation with China through exchange and cooperation.”

While the Foreign Relations Committee spokesman is in Taipei, US lawmakers plan to meet with senior Taiwanese officials to understand the new administration’s priorities and goals.

Lawmakers will also meet with the leadership of the American Institute in Taiwan, the de facto US embassy, ​​to monitor and discuss US relations with Taiwan, which has no formal ties to Washington but relies on defense arms and international support.

Lai’s swearing-in ceremony was attended by a bilateral delegation of former high-ranking US officials.

China has not ruled out the use of force in unification with Taiwan, which rejects Beijing’s sovereignty claims. Cross-strait relations deteriorated under Lai’s predecessor. Tsai Ing-wenWith China stepping up military and other pressure on the island, it is officially recognized by only 12 governments worldwide.

In his inauguration speech, Lai, also known by his English name William, called on China to end its political and military threats against democratic Taiwan, which he called “the vanguard of world peace.”

“I hope that China will face the reality of the existence of the Republic of China, respect the choices of the Taiwanese people and choose dialogue instead of good faith confrontation,” Lai said, using Taiwan’s official name.

China disagreed with Lai in joint military exercises on Thursday and Friday in the Taiwan Strait and around Taiwanese-controlled island groups off the Chinese coast, prompting Taiwan’s military to mobilize its forces.

“This action targets Taiwan’s independence forces and deters foreign forces from interfering, which is completely reasonable, legal and necessary,” Chinese Defense Ministry spokesman Wu Qian said at a news conference in Beijing on Friday.

In a statement Thursday, Taiwan’s foreign ministry said the island would “continue to firmly support democracy” and that “this commitment will not change as a result of any coercion or pressure.”

Although China’s military response was expected and not that harsh live fire military exercises started after then Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi visited Taiwan In August 2022, experts said this could indicate a hardening of relations in Beijing.

“The million dollar question we’re all trying to answer is, is this going to become normal under the Lai administration, or is this just a necessary response that we know the PRC is going to make?” Lev Nachman, a political scientist and associate professor at the National Chengchi University in Taipei, said this using the initials of China’s official name, the People’s Republic of China.

“We don’t know yet.”

The delegation’s visit also comes after Congress recently approved nearly $2 billion in military aid to Taiwan in hopes of bolstering its defenses against China.

Taiwan’s new representative to the United States, Alexander Yui, said that the delegation’s visit to the island is “a demonstration of the strength of friendship that exists in the world.”

“This is essentially as important as the military aspect of our strong position in the world, and to show the other side that people care about Taiwan,” Yui said.



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