U.S. reps say China demanded they call off Taiwan visit
Taipei, Nov. 26 (CNA) Members of a U.S. congressional delegation currently in Taiwan have said they defied "blunt" warnings from the Chinese embassy in Washington, which had demanded the trip be canceled.
The five-representative delegation, which is being led by the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs chair Rep. Mark Takano, is the second U.S. congressional delegation visit to Taiwan this month, following on from a three-day visit by a Senator John Cornyn-led group earlier in November.
Two members of the most recent delegation, Rep. Nancy Mace of South Carolina and Rep. Elissa Slotkin of Michigan, said they had made the trip despite direct demands from the Chinese embassy to cancel the visit.
"When News broke of our visit to Taiwan, China's embassy demanded we cancel the trip (we didn't)," Mace tweeted Friday, hours after she and four other U.S. lawmakers touched down in Taiwan.
In another tweet, Mace referred to Taiwan, whose official name is the Republic of China, as "the Republic of Taiwan."
Slotkin also tweeted after arriving in Taiwan that her office had received a similarly "blunt message from the Chinese Embassy" telling her to call off the trip.
During a meeting Friday with the delegation, President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) announced that Taiwan's Veterans Affairs Council (VAC) would establish a mission in the U.S. early next year to foster more bilateral exchanges.
"Veteran affairs is one area in which Taiwan and the U.S. have enjoyed particularly close cooperation over the past few years," Tsai said, adding that starting next January "our Veterans Affairs Council will have an official base in Washington, D.C."
Explaining the move, Tsai said it would "help us better coordinate and expand their exchanges in health insurance, quality healthcare, employment assistance and long-term care for veterans."
The VAC previously said it planned to send two retired military officers to the U.S. and that they would share the same office with the Ministry of National Defense's (MND) mission.
Meanwhile, Takano remarked that the delegation's trip to Taiwan served to "remind our partners and allies that after two trying years that we've endured, our commitment and our shared responsibility for a free and secure Indo-Pacific region remain stronger than ever."
Takano added he was hopeful travel to Taiwan by U.S. policy makers would become "business as usual again" as the COVID-19 pandemic gradually wanes.
According to the American Institute in Taiwan, the delegation's trip to Taiwan from Thursday to Friday is part of a larger tour of the Indo-Pacific region that also includes stops in Japan and South Korea.
The delegation came to Taiwan to "learn about the region and reaffirm the U.S. commitment to our hosts," Slotkin said, adding it would discuss a wide range of economic and national security issues with Taiwanese leaders.
According to Taiwan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the U.S. lawmakers met with VAC head Feng Shih-kuan (馮世寬) Friday morning, and would visit MND in the afternoon before wrapping up their trip.
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