Congressional Leaders Critical of China Hold Talks with President of Taiwan

A delegation from the United States Congress, led by Representative Mike Gallagher of Wisconsin, convened with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen in Taipei on Thursday to express solidarity with the democratically governed island, which is claimed by Beijing.

Gallagher, who chairs the House select committee on competition with China, embarked on this visit with four fellow lawmakers as part of a broader tour of the Asia-Pacific region. The American Institute in Taiwan, serving as Washington’s unofficial embassy, facilitated their trip.

Taiwan’s status remains a pivotal issue in Sino-American relations. While the United States lacks formal diplomatic ties with the island, it stands as Taiwan’s foremost international supporter. Over recent years, Taiwan has faced escalating pressure from China across military, economic, and diplomatic fronts, with Beijing refusing to rule out the use of force to achieve reunification.

Addressing reporters at a press conference, Gallagher, a vocal critic of China, emphasized bipartisan American support for Taiwan’s freedom. He underscored the significance of Taiwan’s fate, asserting, “For as Taiwan goes, so goes the world.”

During their meeting with President Tsai, discussions centered on bolstering exchanges between Taiwan and the United States. Tsai emphasized Taiwan’s pivotal role in upholding global peace and democracy and expressed the island’s commitment to strengthening international partnerships.

The bipartisan delegation also engaged with Vice President Lai Ching-te, set to assume the presidency in May following his recent electoral victory. Lai’s Democratic Progressive Party, viewed unfavorably by Beijing, advocates for Taiwan’s independence, drawing accusations of separatism from the mainland.

Throughout their visit, the delegation will engage with senior Taiwanese officials and civil society representatives to delve into various issues, including U.S.-Taiwan relations, regional security, and trade dynamics.

China has condemned such interactions as meddling in its internal affairs, urging the United States to halt official exchanges with Taiwan. Additionally, Beijing expressed opposition to a proposed U.S. sale of advanced military technology to Taiwan, signaling heightened tensions between the two superpowers.

These developments unfold against the backdrop of escalating tensions between China and Taiwan, sparked by a recent maritime dispute involving the deaths of two Chinese fishermen near the Kinmen islands. China’s announcement of intensified law enforcement activities in the region has further strained relations, prompting objections from Taiwan.

Despite these tensions, Taiwan’s defense ministry maintains that military deployments remain unchanged, emphasizing the normalcy of the situation surrounding the island.