US lawmakers say they sought to demonstrate close ties with Taiwan visit

The visits to Taiwan from Mrs Pelosi and other US lawmakers have drawn a strong response from China. PHOTO: REUTERS

WASHINGTON (BLOOMBERG) - The US must maintain its close ties with Taiwan and deter China from forcefully intervening in the self-governing island, and it can do so without altering the status quo in US-China relations, according to two lawmakers who recently returned from a trip to Taiwan.

Representative Don Beyer, a Virginia Democrat who was part of a five-member congressional visit to Taiwan earlier this month, said he and the rest of the delegation affirmed their support for the US' long-standing "One China" policy. The Chinese position is that Taiwan is part of China and that Beijing is the nation's sole representative.

China says recent visits by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other groups of lawmakers violate existing US-China agreements and has warned of "serious consequences".

"We felt it was important to reinforce the message that despite America's - or perhaps because of - America's One China policy that we nevertheless wanted to maintain the status quo in Taiwan and deter if possible any kind of forceful intervention that the PRC would have with Taiwan," Mr Beyer said on Bloomberg Television's "Balance of Power with David Westin."

Taiwan's status as the world's top supplier of semiconductors is a linchpin of its economic relationship with the US, China and other nations, making the island a strategic asset for countries in need of cutting-edge chip technology.

The US was Taiwan's-third largest trading partner last year, according to the island's trade negotiations office. The US and Taiwan are set to start talks on a trade and economic initiative in the coming months.

On their two-day trip to Taiwan earlier this month, Mr Beyer and the other lawmakers met with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen, Minister of Foreign Affairs Joseph Wu and members of the local parliament.

Senator Ed Markey, the Massachusetts Democrat who led the delegation, said at a news conference on Tuesday (Aug 23) that the US has a responsibility to stand with Taiwan and to take a steady approach to avoid escalating tensions. He rejected assertions by Chinese officials that he and the others were being provocative.

"No one tells me where to stand, and no one tells me where to travel," Mr Markey said. "It is imperative that we keep our relations strong with the Taiwanese government. But we cannot respond in kind to Chinese escalation and it's our moral responsibility to do everything we can to maintain peace, stability and deterrence across the Taiwan strait."

The visits from Mrs Pelosi and other US lawmakers have drawn a strong response from China. The Chinese military announced fresh military patrols in the "sea and air space around Taiwan" during Mr Markey's visit.

US lawmakers have proposed or passed multiple pieces of legislation aimed at strengthening ties with Taipei, including the Taiwan Policy Act, which would officially recognize the island as a "major non-Nato ally".

The Biden administration has pushed for changes to the measure, warning that it would undermine long-standing US policy.

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