A delegation of five US lawmakers made an unannounced visit to Taiwan on Sunday, 12 days after the visit of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. The visit was led by Democratic Sen. Ed Markey of Massachusetts, chair of the Senate Foreign Relations East Asia, Pacific, and International Cybersecurity Subcommittee.
The other group members were Republican Rep. Aumua Amata Coleman Radewagen, a delegate from American Samoa; Democratic House members John Garamendi and Alan Lowenthal from California, and Don Beyer from Virginia. The four landed at the Songshan Airport in Taipei at 7 pm on Sunday aboard a US plane, but Markey flew in through the Taoyuan International Airport that same evening after meeting with South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol.
The five lawmakers planned to meet Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen and business officials to discuss trade such as investment in semiconductors. The US government said more details about the trade discussion will be released in the next few days.
During Pelosi’s visit to the independent nation of Taiwan, the Chinese government few warplanes past the Taiwan Strait in what the US government described as provocative. Beijing dispatched missiles, warships, and warplanes in what they described as military drills around Taiwan on August 2 to protest Pelosi’s visit. On Sunday, 22 Chinese military aircraft including 10 fighter jets and six naval ships were seen around Taiwan in obvious reaction to Markey’s group’s visit.
“China has overreacted, and its actions continue to be provocative, destabilizing, and unprecedented,” Kurt Campbell, a deputy assistant to President Joe Biden. “It has sought to disregard the centerline between the PRC and Taiwan, which has been respected by both sides for more than 60 years as a stabilizing feature.”
Taiwan became separate from China in 1949 after a civil war in which Communists took over China, forcing the defeated Nationalists to retreat to the island of Taiwan. China still claims that it owns Taiwan and threatens to annex the independent country forcefully if need be. The Taiwan Strait was kept as a buffer zone to keep the two nations apart, even though China violates the gap several times in shows of strength.
Beijing accuses Washington of encouraging Taiwan to remain independent, an accusation the US government denies. China frowns at any country doing business or relating with Taiwan, most especially powerful foreign nations such as the United States that had always been at odds with Beijing.
Pelosi was the highest US government official to visit Taiwan in recent days – the last time was in 1997 when House Speaker Newt Gingrich visited. In April, Republican Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Senator Ben Sasse of Nebraska also visited Taiwan.