U.S. Sen Ed Markey led a bipartisan congressional delegation to Taiwan on Sunday to meet with senior leaders of the self-governed island to discuss relations with the United States and regional security, among other issues. Photo courtesy of Taiwan Foreign Ministry/Twitter
Aug. 14 (UPI) -- Sen. Ed Markey, a Democrat from Massachusetts, led a bipartisan congressional delegation to Taiwan on Sunday to meet with senior leaders of the self-governed island to discuss relations with the United States and regional security, among other issues.
Markey will stay in Taiwan through Monday with Democratic Reps. John Garamendi and Alan Lowenthal of California, and Don Beyer of Virginia, as well as Republican Rep. Aumua Amata Coleman Radewagen, who represents American Samoa.
"Vice Minister [Alexander Tah-ray] Yui extended the warmest of welcomes to Taiwan's longstanding friend Sen. Markey and his cross-party delegation," Taiwan's Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
"We thank the like-minded U.S. lawmakers for the timely visit and unwavering support."
The American Institute in Taiwan, a de facto U.S. Embassy, said in a statement that the visit is part of a larger trip to the Indo-Pacific region.
"The delegation will meet with senior Taiwan leaders to discuss U.S.-Taiwan relations, regional security, trade and investment, global supply chains, climate change and other significant issues of mutual interest," the American Institute statement reads.
Markey said in a statement that the delegation also met Sunday with South Korea President Yoon Suk-yeol to discuss trade between the two countries and the threat posed by North Korea.
"The size, diversity, and lethality of North Korea's weapons continues to grow, as does its threat to our allies in the region," Markey said.
"In my meetings and my visit to the DMZ, we discussed how to continue multilateral pressure and diplomatic efforts to reach a solution that ensures the American people and our allies are safe from a nuclear Kim regime."
U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited Taiwan sparking a military response from the Chinese government which then conducted daily drills in the Taiwan Strait earlier this month.
Taiwan's Defense Ministry said that "multiple" Chinese aircraft and naval vessels were detected in the Taiwan Strait last weekend conducting a possible simulated attack.
The Taiwan Strait separates mainland China and Taiwan, a self-governing republic claimed by China. The exercise on Friday and Saturday are a sign of escalating tensions between the two entities.
Mainland China and the island of Taiwan, among other islands, were ruled by the Republic of China before the ROC lost the Chinese Civil War in the early 20th century to the Chinese Communist Party, which established the new government of the People's Republic of China in October 1949.
The ROC in turn established a temporary capital in Taipei on the island of Taiwan, a former Japanese territory, in December 1949 and served as the seat for China at the United Nations until it was replaced by the People's Republic of China in 1971 as foreign countries switched their diplomatic relations.
China views Taiwan and its 23 million residents as a wayward province and has vowed to retake it by force, if necessary. Many supporters of Taiwan have since argued that it is already an independent sovereign state separate from mainland China, which has never controlled Taiwan.
Ned Price, the spokesman for the U.S. State Department, said Friday that the United States "remains committed to our One China policy."
"We oppose any unilateral changes to the status quo from either side, we do not support Taiwan independence, and we expect cross-Strait differences to be resolved by peaceful means," Price said.
Pelosi has been criticized by former President Donald Trump for her visit to Taiwan which stoked tensions with China, claiming that she "played right into" China's hands.
"What's happened in China, Taiwan, what's going on -- she played right into their hands because now they have an excuse to do what they're going to do," Trump said during a lengthy speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Texas last weekend.
Pelosi has since defended her visit which she said she made "to say we have a strong relationship built on status quo, which we support."