Mick Smith / AP
TAIPEI, Taiwan (AP) – Five U.S. lawmakers met with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen on Friday morning in a surprise one-day visit aimed at reaffirming U.S. “rock solid” support for the self-governing island.
The bi-partisan group of lawmakers from the U.S. House of Representatives arrived in Taiwan 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 given about their itinerary.
The visit comes as tensions between Taiwan and China have risen to the highest level in decades. Taiwan has been self-governing since the two sides split during a civil war in 1949, but China considers the island part of its own territory.
“When the news of our trip came yesterday, my office received a direct 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 that our commitment and shared responsibility for a free and secure Indo-Pacific region remains stronger than ever,” Takano said.
Takano added that US relations with Taiwan are “rock-solid and have remained steadfast as ties between us deepen.”
Tsai, who welcomed lawmakers and the AIT director at the Taipei presidential office, noted the two sides’ cooperation in veteran affairs, economic issues and trade, while reiterating the island’s close alignment with 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 a few weeks after a group of six Republican members of Congress 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 scathing reprimand from China.
China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said on Wednesday: “What the United States has done proves that so-called democracy is only a pretext and a tool for it to pursue geopolitical goals, oppress other countries, divide the world, serve its own interests and maintain their own interests. hegemony in the world. “