Rep. Mike Gallagher arrives in Taiwan with other U.S. lawmakers – DollarJob

Rep. Mike Gallagher arrives in Taiwan with other U.S. lawmakers

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HONG KONG — A congressional delegation led by Rep. Mike Gallagher, R-Wis., is visiting Taiwan this week in a show of support for the Beijing-claimed island democracy.

Gallagher, the head of the House select committee on competition with China, arrived in Taipei on Thursday with four other lawmakers as part of a larger visit to the Asia-Pacific region, according to the American Institute in Taiwan, Washington’s de facto embassy.

The status of Taiwan is among the biggest flashpoints in relations between Beijing and Washington, which has no official ties with the island but is its most important international backer.

“Time and again Taiwan has shown the world how to stand up to the CCP’s bullying and not only survive, but thrive,” Gallagher said in a statement released by the congressional committee, referring to China’s ruling Chinese Communist Party.

“The United States stands with Taiwan,” said Gallagher, a strong critic of China and four-term congressman who announced this month that he would not run for re-election. “By promoting deeper ties between our leaders and our economies we can enhance peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait.”

The delegation is expected to meet with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen and her vice president, Lai Ching-te, who won a presidential election last month and will succeed her in May. Their Democratic Progressive Party is considered the least friendly to Beijing, which has called Lai a separatist and “troublemaker.”

The other members of the delegation are Reps. Raja Krishnamoorthi, D-Ill.; John Moolenaar, R-Mich.; Dusty Johnson, R-S.D.; and Seth Moulton, D-Mass., all members of the China committee. They will also meet with senior Taiwan leaders and members of civil society to discuss issues including U.S.-Taiwan relations, regional security, trade and investment during the trip, which lasts until Saturday.

Beijing, which has not ruled out the use of force in unifying with Taiwan, views foreign lawmakers’ visits to the island as provocative and interfering in its internal affairs. Taiwan, which rejects China’s sovereignty claims, says it has every right to invite them.

The U.S. lawmakers’ visit coincides with rising tensions between China and Taiwan amid a dispute that began last week with the deaths of two Chinese fishermen while they were being chased by Taiwan’s coast guard. Taiwan accused them of trespassing near Kinmen, a small group of Taiwanese-controlled islands off the Chinese coast.

In response, China said Sunday that it would strengthen law enforcement activities and carry out regular patrols in the waters around the Kinmen archipelago. On Monday, Chinese coast guard officers made a rare boarding of a Taiwanese tourist boat, drawing objections from Taipei.

Taiwan’s defense ministry said Wednesday that it had not increased military deployments on its outlying islands and that the military situation around Taiwan was normal.

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