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US Congress reaffirms strong support for Taiwan in first visit since election; stands firm against China’s ongoing threats

Maps of the United States and Taiwan | Credits: iStock

United States: After Taiwan’s election of a new president, the US Congress confirmed its support for Taiwan during the visit. It was the first visit to the Island by US lawmakers since the independence-leaning Democratic Progressive Party won a third straight term in the January 13th election.

China’s Ongoing Threats

It is world-known that China is America’s greatest rival in terms of global influence, and China claims that Taiwan is its own territory, but it also threatens war to annex the self-governing Island. Beijing denounces Lai Ching-te as illegitimate and seems very likely to follow its policy of shunning Taiwan’s government, which has been in place since Tsai Ing-wen was elected president in 2016.

Mario Daiz Balart’s Take

“The support of the United States for Taiwan is firm. It’s real, and it is 100% bipartisan,” US Representative Mario Díaz Balart said. 

Florida Republican Balart was joined by Ami Bera, a California Democrat, according to reports by Associated Press. “In the 21st century, there’s no place for aggressive action. We must learn to live together, to trade together, to work together, to solve problems together.” Bera said.

Additionally, Balart said, “Just know that we are proud of the people of Taiwan. We are proud of the relationship and as strong as that relationship has always been. That is assured. It will even be stronger.” 

“So, we look forward to working together to continue to protect the peace, prosperity (and) the future of Taiwan. It’s up to the people of Taiwan,” he added, according to AP.

Co-chairs of the US Congressional Taiwan Caucus visited Taiwan, for which President-elect Lai thanked him. He stated, “Today’s Taiwan is the Taiwan of the world.”

President-elect Lai’s Vision for a Global Taiwan

Lai also proposed an agreement to avoid mutual taxation of companies and wanted continued military assistance from the US.

Beijing opposes any official interaction between the US and Taiwan. In 2012, it responded to a visit by then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi with some of its largest military drills in many years, including missile launches and the Taiwan blockade. It sees the visits by foreign government officials as an acknowledgment of its sovereignty for what it is.

Balancing Act in US-China Relations

Seeking to assuage this gripe, President Joe Biden said there is no modification of America’s traditional “one-China policy,” meaning that Washington recognizes Beijing as the sole representative of China but also maintains informal relations and defense contacts with Taiwan.

US lawmakers lands in Taiwan | Credits: Reuters

In order to recognize China, in 1979, Washington cut formal diplomatic relations with Taiwan, but US law required the surety that the Island could defend itself. Taiwan highly relies on US military hardware, and a law was constructed as per which Washington must treat threats against the Island as a matter of “Grave Concern.”

To provoke and harass Taiwan, China regularly sends warplanes and navy ships on Thursday, with 18 planes and six ships operating near the Island for 24 hours. Also, three Chinese ballons were crossing the Island; although these ballons were recorded crossing the Island, it remained unclear whether they were for military or intelligence gathering purposes.

“We understand the pressures and the type of coercion of the Chinese Communist Party, and yet the Taiwanese people spoke loud and clear,” Balart said at a late Thursday news conference. “Taiwan is a beacon of hope and of life and of freedom and of democracy, and it is such a direct contrast to what we’re seeing coming from the Communist Party of China,” as per AP.

Bera said Taiwan’s future “should not be dictated by any external power. But the future of Taiwan is up to the people of Taiwan.”

He further added, “We have to respond to external pressures and others that potentially are changing that status quo,” Bera said. “It’s about seeking peace, prosperity, and the right to your own future.”

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