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Why US lawmakers’ trips to Taiwan continue to irritate China

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WASHINGTON Taiwan is high on US congressmen’s list of summer trips during their August recess this year, as US lawmakers are keen to affirm US support for the self-governing island despite objections from the China. Paid photos of the visit of five members of Congress this weeklike that of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi less than two weeks earlier, are meant to be a pointed message to China: newly arrived lawmakers landing on the tarmac at Taipei International Airport, greeted by beaming and elated Taiwanese officials American support.

Sen. Ed Markey, a Democrat from Massachusetts, wrapped up the second U.S. congressional delegation this month on Monday. Pelosi had been the highest US official in a quarter century to visit Taiwanunderscoring the United States’ longstanding policy of solidarity with the island’s democratically elected leaders.

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China claims Taiwan as part of its territory. It considers any visit by US officials as recognition of the island’s sovereignty.

So far, China’s response to Markey’s delegation has been more subdued than two weeks ago, when Beijing launched days of intensive military maneuvers around Taiwan and froze some ties with the government. American following Pelosi’s visit.

A look at some key questions about US lawmakers’ trips to Taiwan, and why they matter.

WHY ARE MORE LEGISLATIVES TRAVELING TO TAIWAN THIS MONTH?

Partly to show that they can and will. Pelosi framed his trip to Taiwan as part of an obligation by American leaders to defend the world’s democratic movements against authoritarian governments. The mission itself is in many ways the message for lawmakers making clear that they will maintain US ties with Taiwan despite threats from China, which under President Xi Jinping is becoming increasingly confrontational in making broad territorial claims in the region.

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Taiwan and mainland China separated in a civil war in 1949. But China claims the island as its own territory and has not ruled out using military force to take it.

The United States recognizes Beijing as the government of China, but maintains informal diplomatic, defense and trade relations with democratic Taiwan.

Markey, a congressional veteran of more than 40 years, was one of the signatories to the 1979 Taiwan Relations Act. The law promised continued relations between the United States and the Taiwanese.

During a meeting with President Tsai Ing-wen on Sunday, Markey pledged to support peace and stability in Taiwan as they face increasing authoritarian pressure from Beijing,” according to a statement from her office.

But Markey also expressed the United States’ desire to avoid unnecessary conflict in the region and praised Taiwan for its restraint as tensions with China rose during Pelosi’s trip.

HOW DID CHINA REACT?

China responded to news of Markey’s five-member U.S. congressional delegation by announcement of new exercises in the seas and skies surrounding Taiwan.

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It was unclear if the new drills had already started. Officials gave no details on where and when they would take place.

During Pelosi’s visit, Beijing fired missiles over the island and into the Taiwan Strait and sent warplanes and navy ships across the centerline of the waterways, long a buffer between the sides.

China will take resolute and strong measures to uphold national sovereignty and territorial integrity, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said Monday at a daily briefing. A handful of American politicians, in league with separatist Taiwan independence forces, are trying to challenge the outdated and doomed one-China principle.

HOW DID BIDEN RESPOND?

President Joe Biden has called China’s unusually aggressive response to Pelosi’s visit unwarranted, saying the United States is sticking to its decades-old one-China policy. This includes no intention of recognizing Taiwan as independent, but also no support for any effort by China to change the status quo between Taipei and Beijing.

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The latest congressional delegation traveled with far less attention than Pelosi’s, and the White House was also quieter. He did not comment, but State Department spokesman Ned Price was asked about it on Monday.

Any response to a peaceful visit by members of Congress, any response that involves belligerent rhetoric or provocative military maneuvers or actions is totally unnecessary, and an absolute overreaction, Price said.

Kurt Campbell, Biden’s coordinator for Indo-Pacific affairs, stressed late last week that the United States will continue to take its own steps in the weeks and months to come to demonstrate and deepen its support for Taiwan’s leaders. .

This includes an upcoming announcement on Taiwan-US trade and US military movements across the Taiwan Strait.

ARE CONGRESS DELEGATIONS IN TAIWAN UNUSUAL?

No way. Price said there have been 10 this year alone. With one notable exception, Pelosi’s, they take place with little public attention.

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Administration officials had argued in connection with Pelosis’ trip that congressional visits to Taiwan were normal and unremarkable, accusing Beijing of stoking tensions with caustic rhetoric.

Several officials noted that the Chinese reaction to Markeys’ trip was much more subdued than to Pelosis. They also suggested it could be a sign that China is returning to its usual opposition to congressional trips to the island, while warning that continued Chinese military exercises in the Taiwan Strait remain a concern.

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AP Diplomatic Writer Matthew Lee contributed to this report.

Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

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