Members of US Congress meet with Taiwan leader amid anger in China

TAIPEI, Taiwan (AP) – Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen met with a delegation of members of the United States Congress on Monday in a further sign of support among US lawmakers for the self-governing island that China claims as its own territory.

Taiwanese media reported that the delegation arrived for the talks, but details of the meeting were not immediately released.

It comes less than two weeks after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan, which led to days of looming military exercises by China, including firing missiles over the island and into the Taiwan Strait.

China has also sent warplanes and naval vessels across the median of the waterway, which has long served as a buffer between the parties that split up during the 1949 civil war. China sees formal contacts between US politicians and the island’s government as support for its independence from Beijing.

China says it wants to use peaceful means to bring Taiwan under its control, but the recent chatter of the saber has highlighted its military threat.

The five-member delegation will be led by Democratic Senator Ed Markey of Massachusetts and will meet other government and private sector representatives. Reducing tensions in the Taiwan Strait and investing in Taiwan’s crucial semiconductor industry are expected to be key topics of discussion.

The other members of the delegation are Republican delegate Aumua Amata Coleman Radewagen, a delegate from American Samoa, and Democrats John Garamendi and Alan Lowenthal from California and Don Beyer from Virginia.

A senior White House official on Asia policy said last week that China had used Pelosi’s visit as a pretext to launch a more intense pressure campaign against Taiwan, bringing peace and stability to the Taiwan Strait and the wider region. was endangered.

“China has overreacted and its actions remain provocative, destabilizing and unprecedented,” Kurt Campbell, a deputy aide to President Joe Biden, said during a phone call with reporters.

“It has sought to ignore the centerline between the PRC and Taiwan, which has been respected by both sides for more than 60 years as a stabilizing feature,” he said, using the acronym for the country’s full name, the People’s Republic of China. .

China accuses the US of encouraging independence troops in Taiwan by selling military equipment to the island and engaging with its officials. The US says it does not support Taiwan’s independence, but that differences with China must be resolved through peaceful means.

China’s ruling Communist Party has long said it prefers Taiwan to join China peacefully, but will not rule out violence if necessary. The two split in 1949 during a civil war in which the communists took control of China and the losing nationalists retreated to the island of Taiwan.

Speaking Friday, Campbell said the US would send warships and planes through the Taiwan Strait in the coming weeks and is working on a roadmap for trade talks with Taiwan, which the US says the US will announce in the coming days.

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