U.S. Lawmakers Visit Taiwan, Chat With President Tsai As China Seethes
Five US lawmakers met with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen on Friday, Nov. 26, 2021, in a surprise one-day visit intended to reaffirm America’s “rock-solid” support for the self-governing island that is claimed by China.
Photo Insert: Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen greets US lawmakers.
The visit came as tensions between Taiwan and China have risen to their highest level in decades. Taiwan has been self-ruled since the two sides split during a civil war in 1949, but China considers the island part of its own territory, Huizhong Wu and Ken Moritsugu reported for the Associated Press (AP).
China was quick to condemn the trip and later announced that its military conducted air and naval readiness patrols on Friday in the direction of the Taiwan Strait, the 160-kilometer (100-mile)-wide body of water that separates China and Taiwan.
“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 in the delegation, wrote on Twitter.
In Beijing, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian called the visit a violation of the “one-China principle” under which Taiwan is part of China. “That individual US politicians wantonly challenge the one-China principle and embolden the ‘Taiwan independence’ forces has aroused the strong indignation of 1.4 billion Chinese people,” Zhao said.
He added that the unification of Taiwan and China is an “unstoppable historical trend.” The four Democrats and one Republican from the House of Representatives arrived in Taiwan on Thursday night to meet senior leaders, said the American Institute in Taiwan, the de facto US embassy. The US does not have formal diplomatic relations with Taiwan.