Visiting U.S. lawmakers meet Taiwan leader despite China’s ire

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Five U.S. lawmakers visiting Taiwan on Monday met Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen and other lawmakers in a show of support for Taiwan amid escalated tensions across the Taiwan Strait.

The U.S. congressional delegation arrived on Sunday for a surprise two-day visit, which followed a trip earlier this month by Nancy Pelosi, the speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives.

China increased pressure on Taiwan both militarily and economically after Pelosi’s 19-hour visit to Taipei on August 2-3.

The delegation includes Republicans and Democrats and is made up of Senator Ed Markey and Representatives John GaramendiAlan LowenthalDon Beyer and Aumua Amata Coleman Radewagen.

Local TV reports showed the lawmakers entering the presidential office to meet with Tsai on Monday then heading to the parliamentary building nearby.

Legislator Lo Chih-cheng of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) told reporters that issues discussed at a meeting with U.S. lawmakers include future Taiwan-US military cooperation.

Lo said the U.S. group’s visit at such a sensitive time, coming shortly after China’s large-scale drills near Taiwan, shows that Beijing cannot prevent leading political figures from around the world from visiting Taiwan.

“Their arrival also delivers an important message that American people are standing with Taiwanese people,” Lo said.

Tsai’s office has not released any details about the meeting.

“I’m travelling to Taiwan with a bipartisan congressional delegation to reaffirm U.S. support for Taiwan and encourage stability and peace across the Taiwan Strait,” Markey said on Twitter.

In Beijing, China’s Defence Ministry spokesperson Wu Qian said on Monday that the visit by the U.S. delegation undermined China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.

Taiwan has had an independent government since 1949, but China considers the island part of its territory. Beijing rejects official contacts between other countries and Taipei.