On Feb. 21, Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen told U.S. lawmakers that the island’s government intends to strengthen military ties with the U.S. and other allies.
Citing the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) “authoritarian expansion” as one of several factors, President Tsai hopes to face the challenges ahead with forces she can rely on.
President Tsai’s intentions of stronger cooperation with the U.S. came after a delegation of lawmakers — including Representative Ro Khanna of California, Tony Gonzales of Texas, Jake Auchincloss of Massachusetts and Jonathan Jackson of Illinois — visited the Republic of China (ROC) for five days starting Feb. 20, AP News reported.
Taiwan is officially known as the ROC because its government once controlled all of China before being defeated by communist rebels on the mainland.
The group, Khanna told President Tsai, arrived to “boost security and economic ties”, al-Jazeera wrote.
Before meeting President Tsai, the delegation visited Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company’s founder Morris Chang to learn more about the semiconductor industry in Taiwan.
“Representing Silicon Valley, I particularly appreciated the meeting with Dr. Morris Chang,” Khanna added, Reuters reported.
“Taiwan and the United States continue to bolster military exchanges, and going forward Taiwan will cooperate even more actively with the United States and other democratic partners to confront such global challenges as authoritarian expansionism and climate change,” Tsai told the lawmakers during their meeting.
Despite Taiwan’s government having no formal diplomatic ties with other countries, the U.S. remains one of its greatest allies and most important arms supplier, especially as Beijing claims the island as part of its own territory.
“Our efforts to come here are in no way provocative of China, but consistent with the president’s foreign policy that recognizes the importance of the relationship like Taiwan, while still seeking ultimately, peace in the region,” Khanna said on Monday, Feb. 20.
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The People’s Republic of China (PRC) has yet to comment on President’s Tsai’s comments or the delegation’s visit. Tensions between Beijing and Washington soared after the U.S. destroyed a Chinese spy balloon over the Atlantic Ocean after it traversed the continent.
“To have dispatched an advanced fighter jet to shoot down a balloon with a missile, such behavior is unbelievable, almost hysterical,” the PRC foreign minister Wang Yi said during the Munich Security Conference on Feb. 18.
Wang Yi also said that Taiwan “has never been a country and it will not be a country in the future.” You Si-kun, head of Taiwan’s Legislative Yuan, spoke in response to Wang Yi’s comments days later.
“Taiwan has never been ruled by the People’s Republic of China for a single day,” You claimed.
The delegation’s visit came after a sensitive trip done by a senior Pentagon official on Friday, as reported by the Financial Times. A Pentagon spokesperson did not comment on the visit. The ROC Ministry of Foreign Affairs said it was unaware of the official’s visit.
Meanwhile, the opposition Kuomintang (KMT) party finished a nine-day trip to mainland China, hoping to secure ties with Beijing and increase their chances in next year’s presidential elections, al-Jazeera reported.