US Sends 5 Lawmakers To Taiwan To Defy The China Government

Bryan Dijkhuizen

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Opening Plenary with Xi Jinping, President of the People's Republic of ChinaWorld Economic Forum/Flickr

Five members of the United States Congress landed in Taiwan on Thursday to meet with government officials, breaking Beijing's prohibition on visiting the disputed island.

"When news of our trip broke yesterday, my office received a blunt message from the Chinese Embassy, telling me to call off the trip," Rep. Elissa Slotkin, a Michigan Democrat, wrote Thursday on Twitter. "The auto industry's largest supplier of microchips is here in Taiwan, so supply chain issues will most definitely be on the agenda."

Slotkin said that the side trip to Taiwan was planned after the United States soldiers in South Korea celebrated Thanksgiving.

The tour would be a terrific opportunity to engage with authorities here to address a wide array of economic and national security matters.

While Taiwan occupies a precarious position in the increasingly contentious relationship between Washington and Beijing, the situation is becoming tenser as China strengthens its military posture and warplane flights near the self-ruled island of Taiwan.

After an informal visit by members of the US Congress earlier this month, the congressional delegation will pay an official visit to the country later this month.

House Veterans' Affairs Chairman Mark Takano, a California Democrat, headed the group that arrived Thursday.

In addition to Slotkin and fellow panel members Colin Allred (TX-D), Nancy Mace (SC-R), and Sara Jacobs (CA-D), the delegation included Reuters, which broke the news of the trip first, and Reuters.

Only a day ago, the Biden administration issued an invitation to Taiwan for its Summit for Democracy, which will take place next month.

The Chinese government criticized the move, labeling it a mistake, according to a report by Reuters.

President Joe Biden made it clear earlier this month that he does not support Taiwanese independence after using the word independence to characterize his progress during a discussion of the island with his Chinese counterpart.

"I said that they have to decide -- Taiwan, not us. We are not encouraging independence," Biden said on an airport tarmac in New Hampshire where he was promoting his recently signed infrastructure law.

Biden explained his views to attendees during his infrastructure address on the same day, stating that he had made very minimal progress on the issue with Chinese President Xi Jinping.

It was at the time that he said:

"We made it very plain we support the Taiwan Act, and that's it."

The delegation's presence drew sharp criticism from China, which described the trip as an act of provocation.

Beijing described the trip as provocative.

"We urge the US congressmen to recognize the situation. Collaborating with the 'Taiwan independence' forces is a dangerous game; playing with 'Taiwan independence' will eventually lead to fire," Wang said.
Pentagon press secretary John Kirby had told reporters following the unspecified group's visit that "congressional delegation visits to Taiwan are fairly routine" and the visit was "in keeping with our obligations under the Taiwan Relations Act, which has been supported by multiple administrations, both Democratic and Republican, that reinforces our requirement to help Taiwan with its self-defense needs."

Relations between Taipei and Beijing are at their lowest point in decades, according to the United Nations.

Beijing dispatched a record number of airplanes into Taiwan's air defense identification zone last month, the region around the island where Taipei has said it would react if there is an attack.

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