China fumes over US senators’ visit to Taiwan

By Riyaz ul Khaliq

ANKARA (AA) – China on Monday lodged protests with the US over a brief visit by American senators to the island nation of Taiwan.

“We urge the US to stop carrying out any official exchanges with Taiwan, and refrain from sending wrong signals to the secessionists to avoid damaging China-US ties and cross-Straits stability,” Wang Wenbin, spokesperson for China’s Foreign Ministry, said at a news conference in Beijing.

US Senators Tammy Duckworth, Dan Sullivan, and Christopher Coons were in Taiwan for about three hours on Sunday to meet government officials.

The American lawmakers landed in Taipei aboard a C-17 military transport plane and were received by Taiwan’s Foreign Minister Joseph Wu.

“The US senators’ visit to Taiwan island by C-17 has seriously violated the One China principle. China is firmly opposed to this and has lodged solemn representations with the US,” Wang said, according to Chinese state-affiliated daily Global Times.

US-Taiwan relations, regional security matters, and the COVID-19 crisis in Taiwan were discussed during Sunday’s meetings.

The senators said Washington “will donate 750,000 COVID-19 vaccine doses to Taiwan as part of the US’ plan to share shots internationally."

US ally Japan sent 1.24 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine to Taipei last week.

“Thank you to the US for supporting Taiwan in our time of need. Your vaccine donation will go a long way toward the health of the Taiwanese people, and serves as yet another symbol of our strong bilateral ties,” Tsai Ing-wen, president of Taiwan, said on Twitter after meeting the US officials.

Before May, Taiwan was one of the regions least impacted by the coronavirus pandemic, but an explosion of infections has seen over 10,000 reported since the middle of last month.

According to official data, the overall count on the island now stands at 11,491, including 286 deaths – at least 274 of these fatalities have been recorded since May 15.

China claims Taiwan as a “breakaway province,” while Taipei insists on its independence since 1949 and currently maintains independent diplomatic relations with at least 16 nations.

The US formally recognized China in 1979 and eventually shifted diplomatic relations from Taipei to Beijing, acknowledging the One China Policy and including Taiwan as a part of mainland China.