Congress delegation visits Taiwan amid tense moment between US and China

TAIPEI – A delegation of US lawmakers met with the head of Taiwan’s legislature Monday as part of a five-day visit to the self-governing island Relations between the US and China remain strained after weeks of trade allegations about a spy balloon.

The delegation, which arrived on Sunday, includes Representatives Ro Khanna of California, Tony Gonzales of Texas, Jake Auchincloss of Massachusetts and Jonathan Jackson of Illinois.

They are expected to meet President Tsai Ing-wen and business people. On Monday, they held talks with Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company founder Morris Chang, who is considered the father of the island’s chip industry.

Khanna, a Democrat representing Silicon Valley, said he was in Taiwan to learn about the island’s role in the semiconductor industry. Khanna and Auchincloss are both members of the House of Representatives’ new select committee focused on competing with China.

He addressed the implied threat their visit faces as China opposes any form of exchanges between Taiwan and foreign governments. China claims the island as part of its territory, which must be united by force if necessary, and has stepped up military and diplomatic harassment of Taiwan.

“Our efforts to get here are in no way provocative of China, but are in line with the president’s foreign policy, which recognizes the importance of ties like Taiwan, while ultimately still striving for peace in the region,” Khanna said.

Taiwan’s Legislative Yuan Chairman You Si-kun used the speech to hit back at Wang Yi, the Chinese Communist Party’s top foreign policy leader, who said at the Munich Security Conference over the weekend that Taiwan “never was a country and it won’t be one land in the future.”

“China ignores historical facts and claims sovereignty over Taiwan. Taiwan has already become an independent sovereign nation…Taiwan has never been ruled by the People’s Republic of China for a single day,” You said.

The delegation’s visit follows a sensitive trip made by a senior Pentagon official on Friday, the Financial Times reported.

A Pentagon spokesman did not comment on the visit of Michael Chase, China’s deputy deputy defense minister, reiterating that “our commitment to Taiwan is rock solid and helps maintain peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait and the region.” The Taiwan Foreign Ministry said it had no information about such a visit.

Tensions between the US and China escalated again last month after Washington accused Beijing of sending a spy balloon down over America’s east coast and Secretary of State Antony Blinken canceled a trip to Beijing. Blinken also said over the weekend the United States was concerned that China would supply arms to Russia for its war in Ukraine.


Associated Press video producer Johnson Lai contributed to this report.

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Sarah Y. Kim

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