“When news of our trip broke yesterday, my office received a blunt message from the Chinese embassy telling me to cancel the trip,” Representative Elissa Slotkin, a Michigan Democrat in the delegation, wrote on Twitter.
In Beijing, China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian called the visit a violation of the “one China principle” that makes Taiwan part of China.
“That individual US politicians willfully challenge the One-China principle and encourage Taiwan’s independence forces has sparked the outrage of 1.4 billion Chinese,” Zhao said. He added that the unification of Taiwan and China is an “unstoppable historical trend”.
The four Democrats and one Republican from the House of Representatives arrived in Taiwan on Thursday evening to meet with senior leaders, according to the American Institute in Taiwan, the de facto US embassy. The US has no formal diplomatic relations with Taiwan.
“We are here in Taiwan this week to remind our partners and allies, after two difficult years we have endured, that our commitment and shared responsibility for a free and secure Indo-Pacific region remain stronger than ever,” said Representative Mark Mark. Takano, a California Democrat.
Sara Jacobs, another Democrat from California; Colin Allred, a Democrat from Texas and Nancy Mace, a Republican from South Caroline, were also part of the delegation.
Takano said the US relationship with Taiwan is “rock solid and has remained steadfast as ties between us have deepened”.
Tsai, who welcomed lawmakers to the presidential office in Taipei, noted that the two sides are working together on veteran affairs, economic issues and trade, while reiterating that the island is working closely with the US.
“Taiwan will continue to intensify cooperation with the United States to uphold our shared values of freedom and democracy and ensure peace and stability in the region,” she said.
A statement from China’s People’s Liberation Army Eastern Command did not mention the US Congress’ visit, but said the preparedness patrols were “necessary measures for the current situation in the Taiwan Strait”. It pledged to “take all necessary steps to counter any external interference and separatist efforts for ‘Taiwan independence’.”
The visit is US lawmakers’ third visit to Taiwan this year and comes just weeks after a group of six Republican congressmen visited the island. That delegation met with President Tsai, Secretary-General of National Security Wellington Koo and Secretary of State Joseph Wu.
In June, three congressmen flew to Taiwan to donate much-needed vaccines at a time when the island was struggling to get enough.
The Biden administration has also invited Taiwan to a Summit for Democracy next month, a move that prompted a sharp rebuke from China.
In the Solomon Islands, anti-government rioters staged protests this week and looted parts of the capital, in part over complaints over a 2019 decision to move diplomatic recognition from Taiwan to China. China is campaigning to poach Taiwan’s remaining diplomatic allies.