TAIPEI, Taiwan (AP) — Five U.S. lawmakers were in Taiwan on Friday in a surprise one-day visit, said the American Institute in Taiwan, the de facto embassy.
The lawmakers from the U.S. House of Representatives arrived in Taiwan on Thursday night and were to meet with senior leaders on the island. No further details were provided about their itinerary.
The visit came as tensions between Taiwan and China have risen to their highest level in decades. Taiwan has been self-ruled since the two sides split during a civil war in 1949, but China considers the island part of its territory.
“Just touched down in the Republic of Taiwan,” tweeted Rep. Nancy Mace on Thursday night, using the island’s unofficial name.
House Democrats Mark Takano of California, Elissa Slotkin of Michigan, Colin Allred of Texas and Sara Jacobs of California, along with Mace, a South Carolina Republican, were part of the visiting delegation.
The Biden administration has invited Taiwan to a Summit for Democracy next month, a move that drew a sharp rebuke from China, including an op-ed in the National Interest co-authored by ambassadors to Washington from both Beijing and Moscow.
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In the National Interest piece, the ambassadors posited that “Democracy is not a prerogative of a certain country or a group of countries, but a universal right of all peoples” before going on to say democracy has no universal definition and to explain how the systems in place in China and Russia do, in fact, fit within their own internal understandings of the term.
See: U.S. among countries cited in intergovernmental body’s report as experiencing democracy ‘backslide’
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The Thanksgiving congressional trip comes just a few weeks after a group comprising six Republican lawmakers visited the island. That congressional delegation met with President Tsai Ing-wen, National Security Secretary General Wellington Koo and Foreign Minister Joseph Wu, among others.
It’s the third visit by U.S. lawmakers this year. In June, three members of Congress flew to Taiwan to donate badly needed vaccines at a time when the island was struggling to get enough.
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China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said on Wednesday, referring to Biden’s invitation to the democracies summit, “What the U.S. did proves that the so-called democracy is just a pretext and tool for it to pursue geopolitical goals, suppress other countries, divide the world, serve its own interest and maintain its hegemony in the world.”
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