US officials claim Chinese mission asked them to abandon trip, Beijing says Taiwan ‘not a card in international relations’.
ISTANBUL (AA) – A group of US lawmakers – the second this month – reached Taiwan on a visit that China said violates norms of international relations.
“A pleasure to welcome our US friends to Taiwan. I thank the representatives for their support, and look forward to productive discussions on how to further strengthen bilateral ties,” Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen said after meeting a delegation of five American lawmakers led by Mark Takano, head of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.
She said Taiwan’s Veterans Affairs Council will set up its mission in Washington early next year to “foster more bilateral exchanges.”
Takano, Colin Allred, Elissa Slotkin, Sara Jacobs and Nancy Mace landed in Taipei on a US military plane on Thursday night and are scheduled to leave on Friday.
The trip comes after the Chinese and US presidents held talks this month focused on bilateral relations amid heightened tensions in the Taiwan Strait.
In an expectedly sharp rebuke, Beijing, which views Taiwan as a “breakaway province,” said the visit “wantonly challenged the one-China principle, an unshakable norm in international relations.”
“(It) aroused strong indignation among 1.4 billion Chinese people. Taiwan is an inalienable part of Chinese territory, not a card in international relations,” Zhao Lijian, a spokesperson for the Foreign Ministry, told a news conference in Beijing.
“The clumsy performance of US politicians and Taiwan authority is just a few noises in the process of China’s reunification, and cannot change the firm pattern of 180 countries adhering to the one-China principle,” he asserted.
Earlier, Mace, a congresswoman from South Carolina, claimed the Chinese Embassy in Washington had called on the group to cancel the trip.
“When news broke of our visit to Taiwan, China’s embassy demanded we cancel the trip (we didn’t). We’ve had a productive and meaningful visit throughout the Indo-Pacific region as the first bipartisan US House delegation since the start of COVID,” Mace said on Twitter.
Her colleague Slotkin also said her office received a “blunt message from the Chinese Embassy, telling me to call off the trip.”
China has ramped up military and political measures to counter the increased exchanges between Taipei and Washington and its allies.
A record number of Chinese jets have recently flown across what Taiwan says is its air defense identification zone (ADIZ), while China also conducted a combat readiness drill in the direction of the Taiwan Strait after American lawmakers and a European Union delegation made separate trips to Taipei earlier in November.
A US warship also sailed through the strait this week, closely monitored by Chinese forces.