TAIPEI, Taiwan (HPD) — A delegation of U.S. lawmakers met Tuesday with Taiwan’s president, who has vowed to step up military cooperation despite objections from China, which claims the island as part of its territory.
The group was one of many delegations President Tsai Ing-wen has received in recent years as Beijing has increased diplomatic and military harassment of Taiwan.
China has responded to visits by foreign politicians with large-scale military exercises, seen by some as a rehearsal for a blockade or invasion. Beijing has not ruled out using force to unify Taiwan to the mainland, although the parties broke up in a civil war in 1949 and most Taiwanese prefer to maintain the status quo of de facto independence.
Tsai thanked lawmakers for the visit, calling it an opportunity to expand cooperation in semiconductor design and manufacturing, renewable energy and next-generation 5G mobile networks.
“Taiwan and the US will continue to support military exchanges. Going forward, Taiwan will cooperate even more actively with the United States and other democratic partners to confront such important challenges as authoritarian expansionism and climate change,” the president said.
Tensions between the United States and China escalated after Washington shot down an alleged Chinese spy balloon that Beijing said was an unmanned weather balloon. Both sides support the warring sides in the war in Ukraine, and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken warned on Sunday that Beijing may be considering providing Russia with weapons for the conflict.
Taiwan remains a sticking point. Wang Yi, the Chinese Communist Party’s top foreign policy official, said over the weekend that Taiwan “has never been a country and will not be in the future.”
“We are here to affirm the shared values between the United States and Taiwan: a commitment to democracy, a commitment to freedom,” said Ro Khanna, representative from California. “Under the leadership of President (Joe) Biden, the United States seeks peace in the region.”
The delegation is also made up of representatives Tony Gonzales of Texas, Jake Auchincloss of Massachusetts and Jonathan Jackson of Illinois.