A group of U.S. lawmakers flew to Taiwan on Sunday to meet Taiwanese President
-wen, the latest development to raise questions about U.S. intentions regarding the island’s relationship with China.
The bipartisan congressional delegation, led by Senate Foreign Relations Committee member Ed Markey (D., Mass.), plans to spend two days on the island and is expected to also meet with senior Taiwanese government and private-sector leaders to discuss U.S.-Taiwan relations, regional security, global supply chains and climate change.
“The delegation will reaffirm the United States’ support for Taiwan,” a spokesperson for Mr. Markey said, adding the lawmakers would “encourage stability and peace across the Taiwan Strait.”
Taiwan’s Presidential Office said the lawmakers would be meeting with Ms. Tsai on Monday. “At a time when China continues to escalate regional tensions, the U.S. Congress once again organized a heavyweight delegation to visit Taiwan to demonstrate friendship without fear of China’s threats,” Taiwan’s Foreign Ministry said, noting that the delegation would also meet with Taiwanese Foreign Minister Joseph Wu.
U.S. House members Alan Lowenthal (D., Calif.), John Garamendi (D., Calif.), Don Beyer (D., Virginia) and Aumua Amata Coleman Radewagen (R., American Samoa) with a Taiwanese official after their arrival in Taipei on Sunday.
In protesting the visit, Liu Pengyu, a spokesman for the Chinese Embassy in Washington, said that the U.S. had “spared no effort to stir up confrontation” between Beijing and Taipei.
“China will take resolute countermeasures in response to the U.S.’s provocations,” Mr. Liu said.
The trip is among developments that have raised tension over prior U.S. commitments to limit ties with Taiwan amid China’s goal of a political union with the island. It wasn’t clear whether Mr. Markey’s trip was coordinated with the U.S. House speaker’s office or the Biden administration.
The National Security Council, which advises the White House on foreign policy and national security matters, didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
A person familiar with the matter said the trip has been planned for several months and that the China exercises following Mrs. Pelosi’s trip didn’t deter the lawmakers’ plans. President Biden didn’t speak with Mrs. Pelosi ahead of her trip, an official said previously.
The trip’s first stop was South Korea, though the U.S. House members in the delegation missed that part of the trip because of last week’s reconciliation bill vote.
The visit comes barely two weeks after Mrs. Pelosi spent two days in Taiwan as part of an Asian tour to meet allies that sparked a furious response from Beijing both before and after. Mrs. Pelosi, long a strident critic of China’s human-rights record, became the most senior U.S. politician in more than 25 years to pay the island a visit.
Beijing responded to Mrs. Pelosi’s trip by launching missiles over Taiwan, sending warships across the median line of the Taiwan Strait and simulating a blockade of Taiwan with multiday military exercises near the island. Beijing also suspended climate talks with the U.S. and cut off some forms of military-to-military communication with the Pentagon.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Wednesday said the U.S. will not let China isolate Taiwan and that her trip was meant to show a “strong relationship built on the status quo.” Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images
China’s Communist Party considers Taiwan a part of China and has vowed to take control of the democratically self-ruled island, by force if necessary. Ties between Taipei and Washington have grown tighter in recent years, stirring anxiety in China.
Beijing is concerned that Mrs. Pelosi’s visit could trigger a “domino effect” of other world politicians traveling to Taipei, which would boost its international standing, potentially encouraging it to formally declare independence, according to the people with knowledge of Chinese thinking.
Beijing announced an end to drills around Taiwan on Wednesday but said it would continue to conduct regular patrols of the Taiwan Strait. On Friday, the White House’s China coordinator, Kurt Campbell, said the U.S. would likewise send ships through the strait.
“We will continue to fly, sail and operate where international law allows, consistent with our longstanding commitment to freedom of navigation,” he said.
In addition to Mr. Markey, Sunday’s delegation included House members John Garamendi (D., Calif.), Alan Lowenthal (D., Calif.), Don Beyer (D., Virginia), and Aumua Amata Coleman Radewagen (R., American Samoa).
U.S. lawmakers have traveled to Taiwan several times over the past year. Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and senior Republican senator Lindsey Graham paid a surprise visit to the island in April. Shortly after returning, they proposed new legislation, the Taiwan Policy Act, which aims to further tighten defense ties with Taipei.
The bill, which has bipartisan support, would provide Taiwan with roughly $4.5 billion in security assistance from the U.S. over the next four years, and label the island a major non-NATO ally, referring to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, which would provide additional defense and security benefits for the island.
Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defense said 28 Chinese planes and vessels carried out maneuvers around the areas near Taiwan on Sunday, with 11 of them crossing the median line in the Taiwan Strait.
News of Mr. Markey’s visit jumped to the top of the hottest topics list on China’s
-like social-media site Weibo late Sunday night. While most users expressed support for Beijing’s stance on Taiwan, some said the congressional delegation’s visit was a sign that China had been too tolerant of Mrs. Pelosi’s trip.
—Yuka Hayashi contributed to this article.
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