TAIPEI, Taiwan (NewsNation) — A U.S. congressional delegation arrived in Taiwan Thursday for a two-day trip as part of a larger visit to the Indo-Pacific region, according to a press release from the American Institution in Taiwan.
The delegation included eight House representatives, with seven of those members on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, including the committee chair Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas). Other representatives include Rep. French Hill (R-Ark.), Rep. Michael Lawler (R-N.Y.), Rep. Ami Bera (D-Calif.), Rep. Young Kim (R-Calif.), Rep. Nathaniel Moran (R-Texas), Rep. Guy Reschenthaler (R-Pa.), and Rep. Madeleine Dean (D-Pa.).
“Our Indo-Pacific allies and partners are on the front lines of rising threats from the Chinese Communist Party and North Korea,” Kim said. “Strengthening our U.S. partnerships with our allies is vital to countering aggression and ensuring a world with values based on freedom over suppression.”
The press release said that the delegation will meet with senior Taiwan leaders to discuss relations between the U.S. and Taiwan, regional security, trade and investment.
The surprise trip to Taiwan comes just a day after House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) met with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen in Los Angeles, despite increased threats of retaliation from China.
China vowed reprisals against Taiwan, saying Thursday that the U.S. was on a “wrong and dangerous road.”
The Biden administration insisted there was nothing provocative about this visit by Ing-wen, which is the latest of a half-dozen. Yet, it comes as the U.S.-China relationship has fallen to historic lows, with U.S. support for Taiwan becoming one of the main points of difference between the two powers.
But the formal trappings of the meeting, and the senior rank of some of the elected officials in the delegation from Congress, could lead China to view it as an escalation. No speaker is known to have met with a Taiwan president on U.S. soil since the U.S. broke off formal diplomatic relations in 1979.
China views Taiwan as its own territory and treats any dealings between U.S. and Taiwanese officials as a challenge to its sovereignty. Ing-wen’s tour is a bid to demonstrate that her government has international support.
The U.S.’s longstanding “one-China” policy acknowledges that the Chinese claim Taiwan as their territory. However, the U.S. does not endorse that claim and remains Taiwan’s most important provider of military hardware and other defense assistance.
China has repeatedly asserted its claim to Taiwan, though Taiwan maintains its own democratic system of government since the sides split after a civil war in 1949.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.