A delegation of U.S. lawmakers landed in Taiwan early Sunday morning, flying in 12 days after a visit by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi that riled Beijing.
Plans for the two-day visit reportedly include a meeting in the capital Taipei with President Tsai Ing-wen.
Reuters reports the de facto local U.S. embassy confirmed the delegation is being led by Senator Ed Markey (D-MA). Accompanying him are four other lawmakers on what it described as a larger diplomatic sweep through the Indo-Pacific region.
Taiwan’s presidential office said the group would meet Tsai on Monday morning in a very public show of support coming so soon after Pelosi’s own brief tour.
Foreign Office officials tweeted “the warmest of welcomes” to their guests:
“Especially at a time when China is raising tensions in the Taiwan Strait and the region with military exercises, Markey leading a delegation to visit Taiwan once again demonstrates the United States Congress’ firm support for Taiwan,” it said in a later statement.
Earlier a Taiwanese broadcaster showed video of a U.S. government plane landing about 7 p.m. Sunday at Songshan Airport in Taipei, the Taiwanese capital, AP reports.
The other members of the delegation are Republican Rep. Aumua Amata Coleman Radewagen, a delegate from American Samoa, and Democratic House members John Garamendi and Alan Lowenthal from California and Don Beyer from Virginia, according to the report.
As Breitbart News reported, Communist China has long claimed democratic, self-ruled Taiwan as its territory.
It responded to Pelosi’s visit earlier this month by sending missiles, warships and jet fighters around Taiwan for several days afterward. Those intrusions have only recently started to wind down although some commercial air travel in the region is still to be resolved.
The Chinese government objects to Taiwan having official contact with any and all foreign governments, particularly representatives that have a high proximity to power like Pelosi.
China earlier this week vowed zero tolerance for “separatist activities” in Taiwan and reaffirmed its threat that it would take control of the self-ruled island by force if provoked.
“We are ready to create vast space for peaceful reunification, but we will leave no room for separatist activities in any form,” China’s Taiwan Affairs Office said in a white paper Wednesday, AFP reports.
China will “not renounce the use of force, and we reserve the option of taking all necessary measures”.
It added, however: “We will only be forced to take drastic measures to respond to the provocation of separatist elements or external forces should they ever cross our red lines.”
China last issued a white paper on Taiwan in 2000.