US lawmakers visit Taiwan to pacify DPP after Pelosi’s farce
To squeeze more benefits from DPP on military sales: experts
Published: Apr 15, 2022 12:26 AM
Taiwan Photo: Unsplash

Taiwan Photo: Unsplash

About a week after the farce of US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's aborted plan to reportedly visit Taiwan, a delegation composed of six US congressmen from the military, intelligence, foreign affairs, justice and finance committees arrived on Taiwan island, kicking off a stopover that analysts said targets the Chinese mainland with the Taiwan card and boosts more military sales to the island by hyping "mainland threats." 

Taiwan-based media reported on Thursday that the delegation will meet Taiwan's senior defense and external affairs officials, as well as the island's regional leader Tsai Ing-wen, whose quarantine will be coincidentally lifted on Friday. Tsai has undergone home quarantine as a relative she ate with at her residence was confirmed to be infected, hours after the news of Pelosi's infection. 

The Chinese Foreign Ministry strongly opposes the visit, with spokesperson Zhao Lijian saying that China firmly opposes official exchanges between the US and Taiwan in any form, and US congressmen should abide by the one-China principle pursued by the US government.

"China will continue to take forceful measures to resolutely safeguard national sovereignty and territorial integrity," Zhao said.   

Veteran anti-China politicians like Bob Menendez, chairman of the Senate foreign relations committee, and the Republican ranking member of the Senate budget committee Lindsey Graham were the two notable names in the delegation. 

Others in the group are Richard Burr, Ben Sasse, Rob Portman and Ronny Jackson, a Republican member of the US House of Representatives and a former chief medical advisor of former president Donald Trump.

Although there's no release of the visit through official channels from both sides, Taiwan media reported that Taiwan's external affairs authority head Joseph Wu welcomed the visit, saying it shows "strong support" to the island. 

Xin Qiang, deputy director of the Center for American Studies at Fudan University, told the Global Times on Thursday that the visit was to trumpet the "China threats" and promote the Indo-Pacific strategy.   

The visit, which violated the US pledge to the one-China principle, also pacifies Taiwan secessionist authority as Pelosi's planned visit did not take place, Xin said. 

Based on reports from Sky News Australia, the US congressional group's Taiwan tour was the second stop of their Asia-Pacific tour, after they fleshed out how AUKUS "can best be utilized to push back against China" in Australia. The media outlet reported that Japan would be the third stop.  

The reported trip arrangement, which put Taiwan as the second stop, exposed the US' ill-intention, as it showed as if Taiwan island has same status as sovereign states like Australia and Japan, Xin said. 

US Congressional visits to Taiwan island have become more frequent in recent years. In two congressional visits in November 2021, US delegations met Tsai on security issues. In March this year, US President Joe Biden sent former senior defense and security officials to visit the island to express support amid the Ukraine crisis. 

All of the senators in the latest congressional group serve in the Senate Finance Committee, which deals with taxes and trade, so the intention is to push forward the US-led Indo-Pacific Economic Framework to counter China's influence is quite clear, Diao Daming, associate professor at the Renmin University of China in Beijing, told the Global Times on Thursday. 

The visit is also about further boosting US arms sales to Taiwan, and gaining congressmen's interests, Diao noted. 

Menendez has long been known as an anti-China politician and friendly toward Taiwan secessionists. He has co-sponsored a draft bill to rename the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office in Washington the "Taiwan Representative Office." And he has long supported the island's participation in the international organizations and supporting military sales to the island. 

Diao described Graham as a GOP hawk who defends the military industry. He's a ranking member of the Senate Budget Committee and the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Burr is a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Sasse serves in the Select Committee on Intelligence in the 117th Congress, while Jackson serves on the committee on foreign affairs and armed services. 

The mission of the congressional group might be related to military sales, said Diao. "For example, Texas' 13th Congressional District represented by Jackson has strong military interests. Jackson is running for re-election in the midterm elections.

On April 5, the Biden administration approved its second arms sale to the Taiwan authority in two months, an estimated $95 million package including equipment and services. On April 9, US Senator Josh Hawley introduced the Taiwan Weapons Exports Act, which would speed up the delivery of critical weapons to Taiwan, US media reported.

The Taiwan Affairs Office of China's State Council on Wednesday denounced the collusion of Taiwan secessionists' Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) authority and the US, saying the US arms sale is "no different from tying a bomb to every Taiwan compatriot.