Five US lawmakers defy China by meeting with officials in Taiwan

“When news of our flight broke yesterday, my office received an explicit message from the Chinese Embassy telling me that the flight was cancelled,” Representative Elisa Slotkin, D-Mich., Thursday wrote on Twitter. “The largest supplier of microchips to the auto industry is here in Taiwan, so supply chain issues will definitely be on the agenda.”

Slotkin said the side visit to Taiwan came after celebrating Thanksgiving with US forces in South Korea and that the station would be “good for connecting with leaders here to discuss a whole range of economic and national security issues.”

Taiwan occupies a fraught situation in the deteriorating relations between Washington and Beijing, with tensions rising as China’s military posture increases and warplanes fly around the autonomous island.

The bipartisan congressional delegation that arrived Thursday was led by House Veterans Affairs Chair Mark Takano, a Democrat from California, and included committee members Slotkin and Representatives Colin Allred, a Democrat from Texas, and Nancy Mays, a Republican from South Carolina, as well as Rep. Sarah Jacobs, D-Calif., according to Reuters, who first reported the trip.
News of the lawmakers’ trip comes a day after the Biden administration extended an invitation to Taiwan to attend next month’s “Democracy Summit” – a decision the Chinese government called a “mistake,” Reuters reported.
Earlier this month, President Joe Biden made it clear that he was not encouraging “independence” of Taiwan after using the word to describe the progress he made during a discussion of the island with his Chinese counterpart.
“I said they should decide … Taiwan, not us. We do not encourage independence,” Biden said on the tarmac in New Hampshire, where he was promoting the infrastructure law he recently signed.

“We encourage them to do exactly what the Taiwan law requires,” he continued, referring to the 1979 law that dictates the US approach to the island. “That’s what we do. Let them make up their mind. Period.”

Biden made his position clear while greeting attendees after his infrastructure speech that day, and said he had made limited progress on the subject with Chinese President Xi Jinping.

“We’ve made it clear that we support the Taiwan law, and that’s it,” he said at the time.

“Its independence,” he said. “She makes her own decisions.”

The word “independence” is the motivator when it comes to Taiwan. Officially, the United States does not support the island’s independence. Instead, the two countries have informal relations and the United States provides defensive support.

CNN’s Rachel Ganvaza and Kevin Liptak contributed to this report.

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