U.S. senator arrives in Taiwan, defying angry Beijing

TAIPEI, Aug 25 (Reuters) – A U.S. lawmaker on the Senate Commerce and Armed Services committees arrived in Taiwan on Thursday on the third such visit this month, defying pressure from Beijing to halt the trips.

Senator Marsha Blackburn arrived in Taiwan’s capital Taipei on board a U.S. military aircraft, live television footage from the downtown Songshan airport showed.

China, which claims Taiwan as its own territory against the strong objections of the democratically elected government in Taipei, launched military drills near the island after U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit in early August.

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Taiwan’s Foreign Ministry said Blackburn was due to meet President Tsai Ing-wen on her trip, which ends on Saturday, 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 brief statement.

Taiwan’s presidential office said President Tsai Ing-wen will meet her on Friday morning.

The Chinese embassy in Washington did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Blackburn, a Republican from Tennessee, earlier in August voiced support for the trip by Pelosi, a member of U.S. President Joe Biden’s Democratic Party.

“We must stand with Taiwan, and I applaud Pelosi for not backing down to Biden or the CCP,” Blackburn said in a Twitter post at the time, referring to China’s ruling Communist Party.

Pelosi’s visit infuriated China, which responded with test launches of ballistic missiles over Taipei for the first time, and by ditching some lines of dialogue with Washington.

She was followed around a week later by five other U.S. lawmakers, with China’s military responding by carrying out more exercises near Taiwan. read more

The United States has no formal diplomatic relations with Taiwan but is bound by law to provide the island with the means to defend itself.

China has never ruled out using force to bring Taiwan under its control.

Taiwan’s government says the People’s Republic of China has never ruled the island and so has no right to claim it, and that only its 23 million people can decide their future.

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Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Additional reporting by Michael Martina and Susan Heavey in Washington; editing by Mark Heinrich and Howard Goller

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

source: reuters.com