Senior US lawmakers arrive in Taiwan for visit

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TAIPEI, Taiwan (AP) — A delegation of six U.S. lawmakers led by Republican Lindsey Graham from South Carolina arrived in Taiwan on Thursday for a two-day visit that has already been denounced by China.

The U.S. lawmakers are to meet with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen and the island’s defense minister. The visit is “again a demonstration of the U.S.’s ‘rock solid’ support and commitment to Taiwan” amid a “severe” situation in Ukraine, the island’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement.

Graham is joined by Sen. Robert Menendez of New Jersey, Sen. Richard Burr of North Carolina, Sen. Robert Portman of Ohio, Sen. Benjamin Sasse of Nebraska, and Representative Ronny Jackson of Texas.

The visit follows an announcement last week that U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi would visit Taiwan. However, Pelosi’s trip was postponed after she tested positive for COVID-19.

In Beijing, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian denounced the visit on Thursday, saying “China is firmly opposed to any form of official exchanges between the U.S. and Taiwan.”

Taiwan is a self-ruled island claimed by China as part of its territory. China’s People’s Liberation Army sends fighter jets flying toward the island on a near-daily basis.

“Relevant U.S. lawmakers should abide by the one-China policy upheld by the U.S. government. The U.S. should … stop official contacts with Taiwan, and avoid going further down the dangerous path,” Zhao said at a daily briefing.

“We will continue to take strong measures to resolutely safeguard national sovereignty and territorial integrity,” Zhao said.

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