US lawmakers defy China by meeting officials in Taiwan

WASHINGTON — Five US lawmakers arrived in Taiwan on Thursday to meet with government officials, defying an urging Beijing to stay away from the hotly contested democratic island.

“When news of our trip broke yesterday, my office received a blunt message from the Chinese embassy telling me to cancel the trip,” said D-Mich Representative Elissa Slotkin. wrote on Twitter. “The largest supplier of microchips to the automotive industry is here in Taiwan, so supply chain issues will definitely be on the agenda.”

Slotkin’s office later shared excerpts of a letter it received from the embassy on Wednesday with NBC News.

“We strongly urge the congressman to cancel the planned visit to Taiwan immediately, and not to support and encourage the separatist forces of ‘Taiwan independence’, otherwise it would cause enormous damage to relations between China and the US and peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait,” the spokesman said. embassy wrote.

The embassy did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The bipartisan delegation that arrived Thursday, led by House Veterans Affairs Committee chairman Mark Takano, D-Calif., included fellow panelists Slotkin and Reps. Colin Allred, D-Texas and Nancy Mace, RS.C., as well as Rep. Sara Jacobs, D-Calif., according to Reuters, who first reported the trip.

US support for the Taiwanese military and the improvement of unofficial relations with Taiwan in recent years have strained US-China relations. China claims Taiwan and has no official ties to countries that recognize the autonomous island as an independent nation. As a result, the US does not officially recognize Taiwan and does not have an embassy there.

Still, the US has improved its relationship with Taiwan in recent years, including through a consular agreement, continued support for Taiwan’s security and visits by US officials. An earlier trip by members of Congress led the Chinese to respond with military exercises near Taiwan.

The US stance on China’s relationship with Taiwan is one of “strategic ambiguity,” intended to leave open the question of how Washington would respond to a Chinese attack on Taiwan or a siege. President Joe Biden said at a CNN town hall meeting in October that the US would defend Taiwan from an attack, but the White House quickly made it clear that US policy would not change.

Takano praised the island as a “force for good” in the world during a meeting with President Tsai Ing-wen on Friday, saying ties with the United States under Tsai were more productive than in decades.

“Our commitment to Taiwan is rock solid and has remained steadfast as the ties between us have grown. Taiwan is a democratic success story, a trusted partner and a force for good in the world,” he said.

Reuters contributed.

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