Second US delegation visits Taiwan this month

Beijing warns of consequences for American politicians challenging one-China principle

TAIPEI • A group of US lawmakers arrived in Taiwan on Thursday, the second such delegation this month and a fresh sign of American support just days after President Joe Biden invited Taipei to a democracy summit.

China claims self-ruled democratic Taiwan as its territory, to be retaken one day by force if necessary, and has stepped up efforts to isolate it diplomatically.

"When news of our trip broke yesterday, my office received a blunt message from the Chinese Embassy, telling me to call off the trip," Congresswoman Elissa Slotkin, one of the delegates, wrote on Twitter.

Ms Nancy Mace, the only Republican in the group, tweeted her arrival on Thursday with a selfie and the words: "Just touched down in the Republic of Taiwan."

That choice of wording is significant, because Taiwan's official name is the Republic of China - but those who favour independence often use the phrase Republic of Taiwan instead.

Taiwan is only recognised by 15 other nations but it maintains de facto diplomatic relations with multiple countries.

The latest visit by the lawmakers came after Taipei was invited to join Mr Biden's planned democracy summit, a move which led to a rebuke from Beijing.

It also comes days after China downgraded diplomatic relations with Lithuania because Vilnius allowed Taiwan to open a de facto embassy in the country.

China's foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian yesterday protested against the visit and warned of consequences for "US politicians wantonly challenging the one-China principle".

"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. You will only hit a wall and suffer the consequences of your own actions," he said.

The US delegation is led by Mr Mark Takano, chairman of the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs, and includes Mr Colin Allred and Ms Sara Jacobs, as well as Ms Slotkin and Ms Mace.

"Taiwan will continue to step up cooperation with the United States in order to uphold our shared values of freedom and democracy, and to ensure peace and stability in the region," said the island's President Tsai Ing-wen when meeting the delegation.

Meanwhile, a pledge by a leading Honduran presidential candidate, Ms Xiomara Castro, to embrace China and de-emphasise existing Taiwan relations if she wins tomorrow's election has prompted diplomatic jostling between Beijing and Washington.

Ms Castro said in her election manifesto that she would seek to establish formal ties with Beijing if she wins. However, shortly after an unusually-timed visit to Honduras this week by Mr Brian Nichols, the US assistant secretary of state for the Western Hemisphere, the Castro aide who wrote the manifesto said no final decision has been taken.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 27, 2021, with the headline Second US delegation visits Taiwan this month. Subscribe