A bipartisan group of US lawmakers made a surprise visit to Taiwan on Friday — defying “blunt” warnings from China to stay away from the hotly contested island it considers part of its territory.
The four Democrats and one Republican arrived to meet Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen at a time when the self-governing island’s tensions with China have risen to their highest level in decades.
Michigan Democrat Rep. Elissa Slotkin said that when news of her visit broke, her office “received a blunt message from the Chinese Embassy, telling me to call off the trip.”
But “we’re here to learn about the region and reaffirm the U.S. commitment to our hosts, the Taiwanese,” Slotkin tweeted.
The South Carolina lawmaker also pictured herself at the airport, writing that she had “just touched down in the Republic of Taiwan” — another challenge to Beijing, which calls the island the Republic of China.
Beijing confirmed its anger at the visit, which was led by Mark Takano (D-Calif.), chairman of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, and also included Colin Allred (D-Texas) and Sara Jacobs ( D-Calif.)
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian accused them of “wantonly” challenging the “one-China principle,” insisting the trip “has aroused the strong indignation of 1.4 billion Chinese people.”
“Let me offer a bit of advice to some Americans: don’t play the Taiwan card. Because that’s a bad one. You won’t win,” Lijian said, according to Agence France-Presse.
“You will only hit a wall and suffer the consequences of your own actions,” he said.
The trip comes as China has stepped up pressure to assert its sovereignty claims over the island, spurring anger in Taipei where the government has vowed to defend Taiwan’s freedom and democracy.
It is the third trip there by US lawmakers this year and comes just a few weeks after a group of six Republican members of Congress visited.
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