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US lawmakers arrive in Taiwan

US Representative Mike Gallagher, who chairs the House China Affairs Committee, told Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen during a visit to Taipei on Thursday that the trip was meant to show bipartisan support for Taiwan, which is claimed by China, NTD reports.

Mike Gallagher, who arrived in Taiwan on Thursday as part of a delegation of four other lawmakers on a visit that will end on Saturday, is a staunch friend of Taiwan and a fierce critic of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), which has been mounting military and political pressure. Mr. Gallagher told Ms. Tsai in the presidential office in a meeting broadcast live online:

Today we come, as Democrats and Republicans, to show our bipartisan support for this partnership, which thanks to your leadership is stronger and more rock-solid than ever. Today, freedom is under attack from authoritarian aggression and we need to be more vigilant than ever if we want to pass on this gift of freedom we have been given to the next generation.

The CCP regards democratically governed Taiwan as its territory. However, the government in Taipei rejects this position, arguing that only the island’s people can decide their own future.

Beijing regularly condemns visits by foreign lawmakers to Taiwan. Nevertheless, Taiwan declares that it can invite anyone it wants and that the CCP has no right to speak for the people of Taiwan.

During the meeting, Tsai thanked the US government and parliament for continuing to help Taiwan strengthen its defence and hoped that Taiwan-US exchanges would become more active this year.

In a separate meeting, Vice President Lai Ching-te, who last month won the election for Taiwan’s next president and will take office on May 20, said that in the face of strong pressure from the CCP, Taiwan will continue to strengthen its self-defence.

Mr. Gallagher said the US would deepen its partnership with Taiwan after Mr. Lai assumed the presidency, and that if the CCP tried to expand its influence over Taiwan, the attempt would fail.

In December, Mr. Gallagher’s committee released a list of bipartisan recommendations to restore US economic ties with China, setting legislative goals for 2024 that it said would prevent the United States from becoming an “economic vassal” of its main geopolitical rival. Mr. Gallagher said this month that he would not run for re-election.

Mr. Gallagher, a member of the House Armed Services and Intelligence committees, has spent much of his time this year chairing the Select Committee on the Chinese Communist Party, a bipartisan commission charged with investigating US relations with China and developing strategies to improve the country’s ability to compete with China.

Taiwan’s defence ministry said on Thursday that the US government had issued a $75 million arms sale notice to help Taiwan upgrade its Link-16 communications systems, which the ministry said would help coordinate combat forces.

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