Taipei: US Senator, Marsha Blackburn is the latest US lawmaker to visit the self-governed island of Taiwan on Thursday after a series of visits by Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other US officials that has heightened tensions with China.
Applauding US House speaker, Nancy Pelosi’s recent visit to Taiwan alongside 25 other Republican senators, she said that Taiwan is the strongest partner of the US in the Indo-Pacific Region, according to The Hill.
“Regular high-level visits to Taipei are long-standing US policy,” Blackburn said, adding that she will not be bullied by China into turning her back on the island. As per The Hill, Blackburn arrived in Taiwan after stops in Fiji, the Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea and was received by the director-general for North American affairs in Taiwan’s foreign ministry, Douglas Hsu at the airport.
Blackburn will meet with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen on Friday and will depart on Saturday, The Hill reported citing sources.
Pelosi led a delegation to Taiwan earlier this month, becoming the highest-ranking U.S. official to visit the island in 25 years. China responded by conducting military drills for multiple days near the island after she left. Moreover, a five-member delegation of lawmakers also visited Taiwan days later, prompting China to once again launch military drills following their visit.
Beijing views Taiwan as part of its territory and wants to reunify the mainland with the democratic island. China says Taiwan is the most important issue that dedicates its diplomatic ties with Washington whereas Taiwan’s government says that Beijing has never ruled the island and has no right to decide who it engages.
China’s military drills are continuing around Taiwan, which some analysts say is a simulation of a full-scale scale attack on the island of 22 million people. China’s ruling Chinese Communist Party views Taiwan as part of its territory, despite having never controlled it, and has long vowed to “reunify” the island with the Chinese mainland, by force if necessary.
Upon Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan, the People’s Liberation Army’s (PLA) conducted threatening drills in East China and South China Seas on July 30, while on August 1-4, live-fire military exercises were held in the waters of the Gulf of Bohai and on August 2-6, regular drills were held in the South China Sea.