Fri, 28 Jan 2022

TAIPEI, Taiwan: U.S. lawmakers have made a surprise visit to Taiwan, in a bid to show support amidst Chinese threats to take control of the island nation.

The American members of the House of Representatives, four Democrats and one Republican, met with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen, even as tensions with China have risen to their highest level in decades.

Michigan Democrat Rep. Elissa Slotkin reported that when news of her visit went public, her office "received a blunt message from the Chinese Embassy, telling me to call off the trip."

But "we're here to learn about the region and reaffirm the U.S. commitment to our hosts, the Taiwanese," Slotkin tweeted.

Meanwhile, South Carolina Republican Rep. Nancy Mace tweeted, "China's embassy demanded we cancel the trip (we didn't)."

The South Carolina lawmaker sent out a picture of herself at the Taipei airport, writing that she had "just touched down in the Republic of Taiwan" - itself contradicting Beijing, which calls the island the Republic of China.

The American Congressmen were led by Mark Takano (D-Calif.), chairman of the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs, and included Colin Allred (D-Texas) and Sara Jacobs ( D-Calif.)

Meanwhile, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian accused the Americans of "wantonly" challenging the "one-China principle," insisting the trip "has aroused the strong indignation of 1.4 billion Chinese people."

"Let me offer a bit of advice to some Americans: don't play the Taiwan card. Because that's a bad one. You won't win," Lijian said, according to Agence France-Presse.

"You will only hit a wall and suffer the consequences of your own actions," he said.

The Americans sought to pledge their support to Taiwan, as China has increased pressure to assert what it claims is its sovereignty.

U.S. lawmakers have traveled to Taiwan three times in 2021. A group of six Republican members of Congress visited Taiwan in October.

Additionally, the Biden administration has invited Taiwan to a Summit for Democracy next month. The invitation was sharply criticized by China.

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