Monday, Sep 26, 2022
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US Lawmakers Visit Taiwan Amid Tensions, China Accuses US Of Destabilising Region

The lawmakers' visit comes shortly after China held biggest-ever military exercises around Taiwan in retaliation to Nancy Pelosi's Taiwan visit.

The US lawmakers' delegation that's visiting Taiwan
The US lawmakers' delegation that's visiting Taiwan Twitter/Taiwan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs

A five-member delegation of US lawmakers arrived in Taiwan on Sunday shortly after China concluded its biggest-ever military drills around Taiwan.

The furious action by China came after US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited Taiwan in defiance of Chinese threats. Now the visit by American lawmwkers has led to another angry response from China.

Reuters reported China's Embassy in Washington as saying on Sunday that the visit "once again proves that the US does not want to see stability across the Taiwan Straits and has spared no effort to stir up confrontation between the two sides and interfere in China's internal affairs".

Beijing sees Taiwan as its breakaway province. The unification of Taiwan with mainland China is one of Beijing's objectives and it has not ruled out the use of force for the same. 

The five-member delegation is led by Democratic Senator Ed Markey. The delegation will meet President Tsai Ing-wen and other officials to discuss US-Taiwan relations, regional security, trade, investment and other issues, the American Institute in Taiwan said. The Institute functions as the de-facto embassy of the United States in Taiwan, as there are no diplomatic relations between the two countries.

China responded to Pelosi's visit by sending missiles, warships and warplanes into the seas and skies around Taiwan for several days afterward. The Chinese government objects to Taiwan having any official contact with foreign governments, particularly with a high-ranking congressional leader like Pelosi.

A Taiwanese broadcaster showed video of a US government plane landing about 7 pm Sunday at Songshan Airport in Taipei, the Taiwanese capital. Four members of the delegation were on the plane. Markey arrived on a separate flight at Taoyuan International Airport, which also serves Taipei. The group will be in Taiwan until Monday as part of trip to Asia, according to the American Institute.

The other members of the delegation are Republican Rep. Aumua Amata Coleman Radewagen, a delegate from American Samoa, and Democratic House members John Garamendi, Alan Lowenthal, and Don Beyer

Chinese warplanes have continued crossing the midpoint of the Taiwan Strait on a daily basis even after the conclusion of the military exercises last Wednesday, with at least 10 doing so on Sunday, Taiwan's Defense Ministry said. The 10 fighter jets were among 22 Chinese military aircraft and six naval ships detected in the area around Taiwan by 5 p.m. on Sunday, the ministry said on its Twitter account.

A senior White House official on Asia policy said late last week that China had used Pelosi's visit as a pretext to launch an intensified pressure campaign against Taiwan, jeopardising peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait and in the broader region.

"China has overreacted, and its actions continue to be provocative, destabilising, and unprecedented. It has sought to disregard the centerline between the PRC [People's Republic of China, formal name of China] and Taiwan, which has been respected by both sides for more than 60 years as a stabilising feature," said Kurt Campbell, a deputy assistant to President Joe Biden.

China accuses the United States of encouraging independence forces in Taiwan through its sale of military equipment to the island and engaging with its officials. The US says it does not support independence for Taiwan but that its differences with China should be resolved by peaceful means.

China's ruling Communist Party has long said that it favors Taiwan joining China peacefully but that it will not rule out force if necessary. The two split in 1949 during a civil war in which the Communists took control of China and the losing Nationalists retreated to the island of Taiwan.

Campbell, speaking on Friday, said the US would send warships and planes through the Taiwan Strait in the next few weeks and is developing a roadmap for trade talks with Taiwan that he said the US intends to announce in the coming days. 

(With AP inputs)

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