June 16, 2024

US lawmakers affirm support for Taiwan against China’s ‘aggression’

A senior US lawmaker affirmed on Monday Washington’s support for Taiwan against Chinese “aggression”, on the first congressional visit to the self-ruled island since it swore in a new president.

Sitting down Monday morning with President Lai Ching-te, Representative Michael McCaul — who heads the influential House Foreign Affairs Committee — said he and his colleagues stood in “strong support of this beautiful island”.

Three days after Lai was sworn in, Chinese warships and fighter jets encircled Taiwan in drills that Beijing said were a test of its ability to seize the island.

China claims democratic Taiwan as part of its territory, and says it will never renounce the use of force to bring the island under its control.

McCaul on Monday condemned those “intimidating military exercises”, saying they showed China was “not interested in taking Taiwan by peaceful means”.

“All democracies must stand together against aggression and tyranny,” McCaul said.

“Whether it’s Putin in Russia, the Ayatollah in Iran or Chairman Xi next door to us in China, an unholy alliance is eroding peace around the world,” he told Lai.

“Not since World War Two… have we seen such blatant violence and naked aggression,” he said.

McCaul arrived in Taipei on Sunday accompanied by both Republican and Democratic lawmakers.

Lai thanked the lawmakers for their support, saying he hoped the US Congress would “continue to assist Taiwan in strengthening its self-defence capabilities”.

“I will enhance reform and bolster national defence, showing the world the Taiwanese people’s determination to defend their homeland,” he said.

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