US lawmakers arrive for Taiwan visit

TAIPEI: Two US lawmakers arrived in Taipei on Wednesday in a show of support after the self-ruled island's recent high-stakes presidential election.

It is the second visit by US officials this month and comes after Pacific nation Nauru unexpectedly announced it was severing ties and switching allegiance to Beijing.

The switch, just days after Taiwan's presidential election, means only 12 states, including the Holy See, now formally recognise Taiwan, which Beijing claims as part of China.

The island's presidential election was won earlier this month by the Democratic Progressive Party's Lai Ching-te, who China regards as a "separatist." Beijing warned ahead of voting day that his win would bring "war and decline" to Taiwan.

Representatives Ami Bera and Mario Diaz-Balart, co-chairs of the Congressional Taiwan Caucus, reached Taipei on Wednesday, a statement from Bera's office said.

"While there, the representatives will engage with senior officials and business leaders," it continued.

"The aim of the trip is to reaffirm US support for Taiwan following their successful democratic elections, express solidarity in their shared commitment to democratic values, and explore opportunities to further strengthen the robust economic and defense relationship between the United States and Taiwan."

Bera is a California Democrat while Diaz-Balart is a Republican from Florida.

Democratic Taiwan has its own government, military and currency – but China claims it as its territory and has never renounced the use of force to bring it under its control.

China has ramped up military pressure in recent years, deploying warplanes and naval vessels around the island on a near-daily basis.

On Monday, Taipei's defence ministry said it had detected a record six Chinese balloons around Taiwan on the weekend, with one flying directly above the island.

Nauru's announcement overshadowed the earlier visit last week by an unofficial delegation sent by US President Joe Biden's administration to congratulate Lai.

While Taiwan is not diplomatically recognised by the United States, Washington is a partner and its top weapons provider. — AFP

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