Bipartisan US delegation meets with Taiwan President Tsai

A U.S. congressional delegation, led by House Armed Services Committee Chairman Mike Rogers, a Republican, and comprised of nine bipartisan members, met with President Tsai Ing-wen Wednesday after arriving in Taiwan the previous day.
Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen, in her welcoming remarks, thanked the delegation for visiting Taiwan.
Speaking in Mandarin, she said, "By visiting Taiwan, you are demonstrating your support for Taiwan-U.S. relations."
As is usually the case with such visits, no announcement has been made about the details of the discussions with Tsai, and they will likely only be made public when the delegation returns to the U.S.
It is the largest-scale visit by U.S. congressional members in recent years. Discussions will cover Taiwan-U.S. relations and regional affairs.
Rogers and his delegation arrived on a U.S. executive plane. Foreign Minister Joseph Wu was scheduled to host a welcome banquet on Wednesday night. The group will leave Thursday.
It’s the third time this year that Congress representatives have made public trips to Taiwan, but the first time Rogers has done so.
Joining him are Democratic ranking members Adam Smith, Joe Courtney, and John Garamendi from the House Armed Services Committee, along with U.S. Representatives Jill Tokuda, David Rouzer, Gary Palmer, James Moylan, and Cory Mills, according to a Chinese-language news release from the Taiwanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
China ‘sparks’ expected
Rogers chairs the committee charged with funding and oversight of the U.S. military, which can be expected to generate some sparks in China,
The People’s Republic of China has disputed territorial claims on democratic Taiwan, otherwise known as the Republic of China, and has threatened to take the island by force if it cannot be brought to heel by peaceful efforts.
One source told RFA, “It’s a big deal. They’re obviously not here for fun.”
An American Taiwan-based legal source said, “China has gotten away with a lot because the U.S. can pay attention to one or maybe two issues at once. Now China has the U.S.’s full attention.”
Another American long-term resident of Taiwan said more cautiously, “I would be surprised and disappointed if such delegations were not traveling to Taiwan.
“Members of Congress should feel the need to educate themselves on issues they will need to address, and getting first-hand information on the ground is one of the best ways to do that. China’s attempts to bully Taiwan, especially in the context of the Ukraine war, underscore the importance of having that information.”
Rep. Mike Rogers arrives at a Republican Steering Committee meeting, where he was named the new U.S. House Armed Services Committee Chairman, in the U.S. Capitol building in Washington, U.S., January 11, 2023. Reuters/Leah Millis
The current visit is the first time the chairman and ranking members of the House Armed Services Committee have jointly led a delegation to Taiwan in recent years, with one Taipei-based source saying it recalled Congress’s passing of the Taiwan Relations Act in 1979 after the U.S. diplomatically recognized the People’s Republic of China.
The TRA authorized the continuation of commercial, cultural and other relations between the U.S. and Taiwan, and also declared that the U.S. would provide Taiwan with arms of a defensive character and consider any threat to Taiwan"s security as a matter of grave concern.
The delegation members represent both parties’ leaders from the committee and its significant subcommittees. Rogers, who is pro-Taiwan, along with Smith, are both members of the Congressional Taiwan Caucus and support initiatives to strengthen Taiwan-U.S. security relations.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated in Mandarin that as the global and regional security situation is under threat by authoritarian expansion and China’s continuous attempts to change the status quo, U.S. congressional leaders from military, foreign affairs, and appropriations committees are organizing heavyweight delegations to Taiwan.
This shows strong bipartisan support for Taiwan and a significant commitment to peace, stability, and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific region, the Chinese-language statement said.
The U.S. House of Representatives recently finalized the review of the National Defense Authorization Act for the 2024 fiscal year. The Armed Services Committee’s draft pointed out the problem of delays of deliveries of U.S. military sales to Taiwan and demanded a report from the U.S. Secretary of Defense by March 1, 2024, outlining the benefits and challenges of jointly producing arms and ammunition with Taiwan.
In a hearing on Indo-Pacific security by the House Armed Services Committee this April, Rogers noted that China had tripled its military budget over the past decade and is actively pursuing military expansion and modernization.
A spokesperson for the Armed Services Committee declined to comment on whether the committee members currently in Taiwan are discussing the joint production of arms and ammunition with Taiwan, according to U.S. reports.
Frozen diplomacy
Rogers’ visit to Taipei comes just over a week after U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken visited Beijing in an effort to stabilize U.S.-China relations, which are commonly regarded to be plumbing unprecedented depths since diplomacy was officially established nearly five decades ago.
President Joe Biden’s comments about Chinese President Xi Jinping being a dictator in the aftermath of the Blinken visit likely put any thaw in the diplomatic freeze on hold.
Anti-Chinese sentiment is on a simmering boil on Capitol Hill, where one of the only issues that both sides of the political divide agree on is the importance of “de-risking” trade with China and de-escalating the risk of conflict by making China aware that there will be no backdown if China acts on its reiterated threats of hostility in the Taiwan Strait.
The presence of four House Armed Services Committee members in Taiwan, including its chairman, is not expected to bring Beijing any closer to the bargaining table, but China has yet to officially react, and it was not possible to reach its foreign ministry for comment.
Edited by Mike Firn.


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