TAIPEI, Taiwan (AP) – Five U.S. lawmakers met with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen on Friday morning during a surprise one-day visit to reaffirm US “mountainous” support for the autonomous island.
The bipartisan group of lawmakers from the U.S. House of Representatives arrived in Taiwan on Thursday night and planned to meet with senior leaders, including Tsai, said the American Institute in Taiwan, the de facto embassy. No further details were provided about their itinerary.
The visit comes when tensions between Taiwan and China have risen to their highest level in decades. Taiwan has been self-governing since the two sides split during a civil war in 1949, but China believes the island is part of its own territory.
“When the news of our trip came yesterday, my office received a blunt message from the Chinese embassy telling me to cancel the trip,” Representative Elissa Slotkin, D-Mich., Who is part of the delegation, wrote on Twitter.
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 hard years that we have endured, that our commitment and shared responsibility for a free and secure Indo-Pacific region is stronger than ever,” Takano said.
Takano added that the United States’ relationship with Taiwan is “rock solid and has remained steadfast as ties between us have deepened.”
Tsai, who welcomed lawmakers and the AIT director at the Taipei presidential office, noted the two sides’ cooperation in veteran affairs, economic affairs and trade, while reiterating the island’s close ties to the United States.
“Taiwan will continue to intensify 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.
The visit is the third by U.S. lawmakers in Taiwan this year and comes just weeks after a group of six Republican congressmen visited the island. That delegation met with, among others, President Tsai, National Security Secretary Wellington Koo, and Secretary of State Joseph Wu.
In June, three members of Congress flew to Taiwan to donate much-needed vaccines at a time when the island was struggling to get enough.
The Biden administration has also invited Taiwan to a democracy summit next month, a move that received a sharp reprimand from China.
China’s spokesman Zhao Lijian said on Wednesday: “What the United States has done proves that so-called democracy is just a pretext and a tool for it to pursue geopolitical goals, oppress other countries, divide the world, serve its own interests and maintain its hegemony. in the world.”