Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen met with a delegation of members of the US Congress on Monday in a show of support from US lawmakers for the self-governing island, which China claims as part of its territory.
Taiwanese media showed the arrival of the delegation for a meeting, although details about the meeting were not published at first.
The visit came less than two weeks after US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited Taiwan, prompting several days of threatening military exercises by China, which included launching missiles above the island and the Taiwan Strait.
China has also sent warplanes and military ships across the center line of the strait, which has long been a cleavage between two separate regions in the 1949 civil war. China sees formal contacts between US politicians and the government of the island in support of its independence from Beijing.
China says it wants to use peaceful means to bring Taiwan under its control, but its recent show of force has emphasized the military threat.
The five-member delegation was led by Democratic Senator Ed Markey of Massachusetts and was scheduled to meet with other government and private sector representatives. The talks were expected to revolve around easing tensions across the Taiwan Strait and investing in Taiwan’s crucial semiconductor sector.
The other members of the delegation were Republican Representative Aumua Amata Coleman, a delegate from American Samoa, and Americans John Garamendi and Alan Lowenthal, from California, and Don Beyer, from Virginia.
A top White House official concerned with Asia policy said last week that China had used Pelosi’s visit as a pretext to launch an intensified pressure campaign against Taiwan, endangering peace and stability across the world. Taiwan Strait and in the region as a whole.
“China has overreacted and its actions remain provocative, destabilizing and unprecedented,” said Kurt Campbell, deputy assistant to President Joe Biden, on a call with reporters.
“It has tried to ignore the central line between the PRC and Taiwan, which has been respected by both sides for more than 60 years as a figure of stabilization,” he said.
China accuses the United States of encouraging independence forces in Taiwan by selling military equipment to the island and dealing with its authorities. Washington says it does not support Taiwan’s independence, but that its differences with China must be resolved by peaceful means.
China’s ruling Communist Party maintains that it prefers Taiwan to join China peacefully, but does not rule out the use of force if necessary. The two sides split during a civil war in 1949 in which the Communists took control of China and the defeated Nationalists retreated to the island of Taiwan.
In remarks on Friday, Campbell said the United States would send military planes and ships to the Taiwan Strait in the coming weeks and was working to design a framework for trade talks with Taiwan, which he said Washington intended to announce in the coming days.