A US congressional delegation has arrived in Taiwan, days after China held military drills around the island in retaliation for the House speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit.
The five-member delegation, led by Senator Ed Markey of Massachusetts, will meet President Tsai Ing-wen and attend a banquet hosted by the foreign minister, Joseph Wu, during the visit, according to Taiwan’s foreign ministry.
The American Institute in Taiwan said they would discuss “US-Taiwan relations, regional security, trade and investment, global supply chains, climate change, and other significant issues of mutual interest”.
Taiwan hailed the delegation’s visit as another sign of warm ties between Taipei and Washington. “The ministry of foreign affairs expresses its sincere welcome [to the delegation],” the ministry said in a statement. “As China is continuing to escalate tensions in the region, the US Congress has again organised a heavyweight delegation to visit Taiwan, showing a friendship that is not afraid of China’s threats and intimidation, and highlighting the US’s strong support towards Taiwan.”
The other members of the delegation are the Democratic members John Garamendi and Alan Lowenthal of California and Don Beyer of Virginia, and the Republican representative Aumua Amata Coleman Radewagen from American Samoa, according to the institute.
China views Taiwan as its own territory to be taken one day, by force if necessary. For a week after Pelosi’s visit this month it sent warships, missiles and jets into the waters and skies around the island. Pelosi was the highest-ranking elected American official to visit Taiwan in decades.
Taiwan has accused China of using her visit as an excuse to kickstart drills that would allow it to rehearse for an invasion. It held its own exercises simulating defence against a Chinese invasion of its main island. China drew down its drills but said it would continue to patrol the Taiwan strait.
In its daily update, Taiwan’s defence ministry said on Sunday that it had detected 22 Chinese planes and six ships operating around the strait. Of those, 11 planes crossed the median line, an unofficial demarcation between Taiwan and China that Beijing does not recognise.
Last week China vowed zero tolerance for “separatist activities” in Taiwan and reaffirmed its threat that it would take control of the self-ruled island by force if provoked.
“We are ready to create vast space for peaceful reunification, but we will leave no room for separatist activities in any form,” China’s Taiwan affairs office said in a white paper on Wednesday.
It said China would “not renounce the use of force, and we reserve the option of taking all necessary measures”. It added, however: “We will only be forced to take drastic measures to respond to the provocation of separatist elements or external forces should they ever cross our red lines.”
China last issued a white paper on Taiwan in 2000.