A congressional delegation led by Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass., landed in Taiwan on Sunday, less than two weeks after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's visit to the Beijing-claimed island drew a furious response from China.
The five-member delegation included Reps. John Garamendi and Alan Lowenthal, D-Calif., and Don Beyer, D-Va., as well as Delegate Amata Coleman Radewagen, R-American Samoa, the American Institute in Taiwan said in a statement Sunday.
They will meet senior Taiwanese leaders to discuss security, trade, supply chains and other issues, the statement said.
After a Taiwanese broadcaster showed video of a U.S. government plane landing about 7 p.m. local time (7 a.m. ET) at Songshan Airport in Taiwan's capital, Taipei, the group were welcomed by Vice Foreign Affairs Minister Alexander Tah-ray Yui.
Taiwan’s Foreign Affairs Ministry said the delegation would meet President Tsai Ing-wen on Monday morning before it leaves the island later in the day. The members will also attend a banquet with Foreign Minister Joseph Wu and visit the Legislature’s Foreign Affairs and National Defense Committee.
“At a time when China continues to raise regional tensions, the U.S. Congress is once again organizing a heavyweight delegation to Taiwan to show its undaunted friendship and demonstrate strong U.S. support for the island,” the ministry said in a statement.
Beijing views Taiwan as an illegitimate breakaway province, “a sacred and inalienable part of China’s territory.” When the civil war in China between the communists and the nationalists ended in 1949 with the former triumphant, the latter set up a rival government in Taipei.
Since the 1970s, the U.S. has officially recognized only Beijing, but it has also become Taiwan’s main arms supplier and international backer.
China has yet to comment on the current visit. After Pelosi's trip, Beijing launched its largest-ever series of military exercises around the self-governing island on Aug. 4.
Live-fire drills by China’s People’s Liberation Army effectively encircled Taiwan’s main island, which is about 100 miles off mainland China.
The same day, it also launched 11 ballistic missiles to the north, south and east of Taiwan. They were the first Chinese launches in waters around Taiwan since 1996.
Since the military exercises Wednesday, multiple Chinese planes have continued to breach the unofficial median line down the Taiwan Strait on a daily basis. On Sunday, 11 planes crossed the median line, Taiwan’s Defense Ministry said in a statement.
China said Pelosi’s visit violated the “one-China policy,” which is Beijing’s claim to be the sole government of both mainland China and Taiwan, and it accused the U.S. of trying to change the status quo by strengthening unofficial relations with Taiwan.
“Faced with this, China has no choice but to fight back and defend its sovereignty and territorial integrity,” Vice Foreign Minister Ma Zhaoxu told the Chinese state broadcaster CCTV on Tuesday.
The same day, in an interview with NBC’s “TODAY” show, Pelosi said, “We cannot allow the Chinese government to isolate Taiwan.”
“They’re not going to say who can go to Taiwan,” she said.