Tyler – SUNDAY, AUG 14, 2022 – 11:55 PM
A mere 12 days after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s Taiwan trip enraged China and triggered a week of threatening military drills, a new delegation of American lawmakers has touched down on the self-ruled island.
“The five-member delegation, led by Democratic Sen. Ed Markey of Massachusetts, will meet senior leaders to discuss U.S.-Taiwan relations, regional security, trade, investment and other issues, the American Institute in Taiwan said,” The Associated Press reports.
The group’s US Air Force plane landed on Sunday evening at Songshan Airport in Taipei for the unannounced trip. The delegation is expected to stay through Monday. It’s unclear if this latest Congressional visit was backed by the White House – an important question given the prior Biden administration internal controversy and disagreement over Pelosi’s visit. Previously the White House said that Congress members are free to “make their own decisions” regarding Taiwan visits.
The other members of the delegation in addition to Markey include Republican Rep. Aumua Amata Coleman Radewagen, a delegate from American Samoa, and Democratic House members John Garamendi and Alan Lowenthal – both of California, as well as Rep. Don Beyer of Virginia.
Despite last week the Chinese PLA’s Eastern Theater Command announcing that it had ended the live fire drills that were a response to Pelosi’s visit, Beijing vowed stepped up patrols – and has effectively erased the median line of the Taiwan Strait with frequent ship and aerial breaches. According to Taiwan’s defense ministry on Sunday, at least 10 Chinese planes crossed the median line on Sunday, with a dozen more aircraft and ships being spotted in the area.
Likely the mainland will step up these maneuvers meant to put pressure on Taiwan by air and sea once again. Earlier in the month Taipei officials charged Beijing as preparing for a future invasion – which Chinese state media appeared to confirm in the positive.
Adding to current tensions, starting last Tuesday Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Colin Kahl confirmed that the US Navy will soon conduct another “freedom of navigation exercise” through the contested Taiwan Strait, despite an ongoing heavy Chinese military presence.
China’s military has continued publicizing drills and readiness to respond to what it sees as provocations coming from Taiwan…
Kahl said the sail-through is slated for “the coming days,” describing that “We will continue to do Taiwan Strait transits, as we have in the past, in the coming weeks… We will continue to do freedom of navigation operations elsewhere in the region.”
The US Navy has continued to have the USS Ronald Reagan carrier strike group in regional waters near China, after the White House extended its deployment to the are in the wake of the Pelosi trip.