Four House Armed Services Committee members will meet with their Asian allies on trade and security
Four US congressmen arrived in Taiwan on Tuesday for a three-day series of meetings on trade and economic issues, bilateral relations, and regional security, the island’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs has announced. They are the third such group to visit this month amid rising tensions with China.
The group includes Republicans Brad Wenstrup (Ohio) and Michael Waltz (Florida) as well as Democrats Seth Moulton (Massachusetts) and Kai Kahele (Hawaii). All four are members of the Armed Services Committee, while Wenstrup leads the Defense Intelligence and Soldier Support Group and Kahele is a member of the Combat Readiness Group. Rather than traveling as one group, Wenstrup and Moulton will lead separate delegations, according to the Ministry.
The delegations are set to meet with President Tsai Ing-Wen as well as National Security Council Secretary-General Wellington Koo, Foreign Minister Joseph Wu, and Deputy Trade Representative Jen Ni-Yang. Among their aims are negotiating a free trade agreement with Taiwan and its inclusion in the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework.
Taipei issues warning to Beijing
The four representatives are not the only American politicians visiting the island – Eddie Bernice Johnson, democrat from Texas, arrived on Monday for a three-day jaunt of her own, and 34 members of Congress have traveled there this year. Washington has increasingly fixated on Taipei as a bulwark against China, which considers the island part of its territory under its One China policy and demands other countries seeking diplomatic relations with Beijing to officially do the same. The US has increasingly flouted this agreement, most recently by including sanctions intended to “prevent” China from launching a military operation against Taiwan into its must-pass National Defense Authorization Act, which also includes a whopping $6.5 billion in military aid to the island, which would be deemed a “major non-NATO ally” in the manner of Ukraine.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi became the highest-ranking US politician to visit Taiwan in 25 years when she traveled there in August against the advice of President Joe Biden, infuriating Beijing. Perhaps emboldened by the apparent absence of retaliation, Biden subsequently suggested he would deploy US forces to defend the island in case of Chinese “invasion” (an impossibility from Beijing’s point of view).