House lawmakers head to Taiwan as China warns US to stay out

TAIPEI, TAIWAN – A group of House of Representatives lawmakers are in Taiwan this week to meet with their newly elected officials, despite China’s warnings to stay out of the region and as Beijing steps up its military exercises around the island.

House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Michael McCaul, Republican of Texas, is leading the multi-day diplomatic trip, which comes a week after President Lai Ching-te and his deputies took office , with a defiant speech emphasizing Taiwan’s independence from Beijing’s ruling Chinese Communist Party. (PCC).

“Leading this historic, bipartisan CODEL to Taiwan – the first U.S. Congressional delegation to meet with Taiwan’s newly elected leaders – sends a signal to the Chinese Communist Party that the United States stands with the people of Taiwan and will work to maintain the status quo. across the Taiwan Strait,” McCaul told Fox News Digital. “I look forward to meeting with senior Taiwan leaders and members of civil society to continue strengthening our bilateral relations on all fronts.”

The bipartisan group also includes Rep. Young Kim, R-Calif., chairman of the panel’s Indo-Pacific subcommittee, as well as Reps. Andy Barr, R-Ky., Jimmy Panetta, D-Calif., Chrissy Houlahan, D-Pa., and Joe Wilson, R-S.C.

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House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Michael McCaul leads a delegation of lawmakers to Taiwan as China steps up military exercises in the region (Pictured right: Taiwan’s military conducts a military exercise in the continuation of China’s large-scale joint military exercise around Taiwan on May 23, 2024). (Getty Images)

Panetta told Fox News Digital that the trip sent a critical message for democracy around the world.

“Democracies around the world must come together to defend our shared values ​​and freedoms,” Panetta said. “This bipartisan delegation to Taiwan is a demonstration of this necessary partnership. I look forward to congratulating President Lai Ching-te on his recent inauguration and continuing to strengthen ties between our two nations with an eye toward challenges and challenges. opportunities that await us in the region.”

The Chinese military, meanwhile, exerted a menacing show of force in exercises involving “maritime assaults, land strikes, air and anti-submarine defenses in the airspace and waters to the north and south of the island of Taiwan,” Beijing’s defense ministry said Thursday.

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Inauguration of the President of Taiwan

The trip comes a week after the inauguration of Taiwan’s new president, Lai Ching-te, right, pictured standing next to former president Tsai Ing-wen, left. (AP Photo/Chiang Ying-ying)

Beijing’s Defense Ministry said the exercises included “jointly seizing complete control of the battlefield and carrying out joint precision strikes on key targets” and were “severe punishment for separatist acts by Chinese forces.” “Taiwan independence” and a stern warning against outside interference and provocation. forces.”

Taiwan’s Defense Ministry said it spotted 49 Chinese military aircraft and 19 Chinese naval vessels operating around the island on Friday. He called the Chinese exercises an “irrational provocation.”

In his inaugural speech, Taiwanese President Lai said he sought “neither to give in nor to provoke” Beijing, but pledged to stand firm against China’s encroachment.

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A Chinese warship in the Indo-Pacific

A screenshot captured from a video shows the Eastern Theater Command of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army launching large-scale joint military exercises around Taiwan with warships and military aircraft in China on May 24, 2024. (Gui Xinhua/PLA/Chinese Army/Anadolu via Getty Images)

The Chinese government reprimanded the new leader, and a senior CCP official directly warned U.S. lawmakers not to meet with him or other Taiwanese government officials.

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“Any visit by members of Congress to Taiwan would seriously violate the one-China principle…interfere in China’s internal affairs, undermine China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, and send a signal very wrong to the separatist forces of Taiwan independence,” said the Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson. Wang Wenbin said late last week.

Wenbin called on the United States to end official diplomatic communications with Taiwan, “otherwise, all resulting consequences will have to be borne by the United States.”

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