A top politician from the United States has landed in Taiwan in the latest trip by an American politician this month, despite intense pressure from China not to visit the self-ruled island.
Marsha Blackburn, a Republican senator for the state of Tennessee who is a member of the Senate’s Commerce and Armed Services committees, arrived in Taiwan late on Thursday after visiting the Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea.
She was welcomed by Douglas Yu-Tien Hsu, director general of Taiwan’s foreign affairs ministry, Blackburn’s office disclosed.
“I just landed in Taiwan to send a message to Beijing — we will not be bullied,” she tweeted.
“The United States remains steadfast in preserving freedom around the globe, and will not tolerate efforts to undermine our nation and our allies.”
In a separate press release, Blackburn stated that she was looking forward to “meeting with leaders in Taipei to advance and strengthen our partnerships”, and that such trips were a “long-standing U.S. policy”.
Blackburn is the latest US politician to travel to the self-ruled island since House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited in early August.
After Pelosi’s visit, Beijing, which states Taiwan as its own, carried out large-scale military sea and air operations that included firing missiles over the island. China has not ruled out the use of force to take charge of Taiwan, and sees high-level foreign visits to the island as “interference” in its affairs. Pelosi was the most senior US elected official to visit the island in 25 years.
Taiwan’s Foreign Ministry stated that Blackburn would meet President Tsai Ing-wen on Friday morning, as well as top security official Wellington Koo and Foreign Minister Joseph Wu.
“The two sides will exchange views extensively on issues such as Taiwan-U.S. security and economic and trade relations,” the ministry added in a short statement.
Liu Pengyu, a spokesperson for China’s embassy in Washington, DC, notes that Beijing would take unspecified “resolute countermeasures” in response to what he called US “provocations”.
“The relevant visit once again proves that the U.S. does not want to see stability across the Taiwan Strait and has spared no effort to stir up confrontation between the two sides and interfere in China’s internal affairs,” Liu said in a press release.
Beijing commenced more military exercises after a group of five US legislators landed on the island in the wake of Pelosi’s trip.
The US, which has formal diplomatic connection with Beijing, has emphasized that congressional visits to Taiwan are routine. Washington follows a policy of ‘strategic ambiguity‘ on the island and is bound by law to provide it with the means to protect itself.
“Members of Congress and elected officials have gone to Taiwan for decades and will continue to do so, and this is in line with our longstanding One China policy,” a White House National Security Council spokesperson said in reaction to a question about Blackburn’s trip.
Taiwan’s government states that the People’s Republic of China has never ruled the island and has no audacity to claim it, and that only its 23 million people can decide their future.
The government this week declared a near 14 percent jump in defence spending to include funding for new fighter jets and other military equipment.