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TAIPEI CITY, Taiwan – A U.S. lawmaker has challenged what she says was a stern demand from China to abandon a trip to Taiwan, a move that risks increasing tensions between Washington and Beijing.
“When news of our trip broke yesterday, my office received a blunt message from the Chinese Embassy, telling me to call off the trip,” Michigan Democrat Elissa Slotkin wrote on Twitter shortly after. from landing in Taiwan on Thursday afternoon as part of a trip that also includes Japan and South Korea.
“But just as with other stops, we’re here to learn about the region and reaffirm the U.S. commitment to our hosts, the Taiwanese,” he added. “I’m looking forward to an informative trip.”
China regards Taiwan-related issues as internal even though it has never ruled the island. When a separate group of U.S. lawmakers arrived in Taiwan democratically governed on a U.S. military plane earlier this month, the Chinese military said it conducted joint operations in the Taiwan Strait. in response to “the erroneous words and deeds of relevant countries on the Taiwan question.”
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said at a regular press conference on Friday that Beijing was “strongly dissatisfied” with the last visit by lawmakers.
“They are sending a seriously wrong signal of supporting the Taiwan independent separatist forces,” he said, adding that China had submitted a solemn diplomatic representation to the US.
Slotkin is in Taiwan along with Democrats Mark Takano, Colin Allred and Sara Jacobs, and Republican Nancy Mace. Slotkin has talked about the effect the global semiconductor shortage has had on the auto industry in the southern Michigan region it represents.
The White House and industry representatives have pressured Congress to pass legislation that will provide $ 52 billion in funding to help build chip-making facilities in the U.S. Senate. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has said the funds would improve U.S. competitiveness with China.
Slotkin and other lawmakers plan to meet with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen and visit the Ministry of Defense and the Veterans Affairs Council during their stop, according to local reports.
Ten lawmakers from Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia plan a trip to Taiwan next week to speak at a parliamentary forum. China this week has downgraded relations with Lithuania because the Baltic nation allowed Taipei to set up a representative office under the name Taiwan.
The Taipei Ministry of Foreign Affairs described Beijing’s response as “rude and petty.”
China has increased military, diplomatic and economic pressure on Taiwan’s ruling Progressive Democratic Party, which says the island is a de facto sovereign nation awaiting wider international recognition and is not part of Chinese territory, he said. Beijing. However, the Taiwanese government has avoided a formal declaration of independence that could trigger a war.
Earlier this week, Chinese authorities fined the Taiwanese conglomerate Far Eastern Group as punishment for making political donations to the Tsai DPP.
Beijing has also threatened to sanction more Taiwanese officials after beating Prime Minister Su Tseng-chang, Foreign Minister Joseph Wu and Yuan Legislative President You Si-kun with punishments such as a ban on traveling to the mainland.
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