US lawmakers arrive in Taiwan unannounced
A group of six US lawmakers arrived in Taiwan on Thursday on an unannounced two-day visit, amid growing tensions between Beijing and Washington. The visit has been confirmed by the American Institute in Taiwan, which serves as a de-facto embassy of the United States in Taipei.
“The congressional delegation will meet with senior Taiwan leaders to discuss U.S.-Taiwan relations, regional security, and other significant issues of mutual interest,” the Institute said in a statement.
According to Reuters, the bipartisan group – which includes the chairman of the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee Bob Menendez and senior Republican senator Lindsey Graham – arrived on Thursday in Taipei on an Air Force aircraft and were welcomed by Minister of Foreign Affairs Joseph Wu.
Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen will meet the lawmakers on Friday.
Presidential Office spokesman Xavier Chang said that the lawmakers' visit would contribute to deepening partnership between the island and the US, and underlined that Taipei would continue to work with the United States for the benefit of “global and regional peace, stability, prosperity and development.”
The parliamentarians' visit has angered China. At a daily press briefing on Thursday Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Zhao Lijian underlined that Beijing “firmly opposes any form of official interaction between the US and the Taiwan region.”
“Members of the US Congress should act in consistence with the US government's one-China policy. The US side should abide by the one-China principle and the stipulations of the three China-US joint communiqués, stop official exchanges with Taiwan and avoid going further down the dangerous path,” Lijian said.
He warned that China would continue to take “strong measures” to protect its sovereignty and territorial integrity.
Since 1949, Taiwan has de facto been independent from mainland China, after the losing side in the Chinese civil war fled to the island and installed its own administration there. China, however, has always considered Taiwan to be part of its territory and views it as a breakaway province.
Chinese President Xi Jinping made clear that China would not hesitate to use force against Taiwan if the island of 25 million tries to cut ties with Beijing. However, a peaceful solution is apparently more preferable for the Chinese officials.
Despite recognizing Beijing as the sole legitimate authority in China since 1979, the US is keeping strong unofficial ties with the island and supports it militarily.