U.S. Senator Marsha Blackburn arrived in Taiwan on Thursday, the second visit by members of Congress since House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s trip earlier this month, which sharply heightened tensions with China.
Blackburn, a Republican from Tennessee, landed in Taipei Thursday night after visiting the Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea.
Pelosi was the highest-ranking member of the US government to visit Taiwan in 25 years.
China responded to his trip with large-scale military drills that included firing missiles over the island and sending ships across the centerline of the Taiwan Strait, seen as a buffer between the two sides. .
Some of the missiles fired landed in Japan’s exclusive economic zone.
China claims self-governing Taiwan as its own territory, to be taken by force if necessary, and views high-level foreign visits to the island as interference in its affairs and de facto recognition of Taiwanese sovereignty.
After Pelosi’s trip, a delegation of House and Senate members visited.
This week, the Governor of Indiana paid a visit focused on business and academic cooperation. US politicians have called their visits a show of support for the island.
Taiwan and China separated in 1949 after a civil war and have no official relations but are linked by billions of dollars in trade and investment.
China has increased its pressure on Taiwan since electing pro-independence Tsai Ing-wen as president. When Tsai refused to endorse the one Chinese nation concept, China cut off all contact with the Taiwanese government.
US congressional visits to the island have increased over the past year.
On Thursday, the executive branch of the Taiwanese government outlined plans for a 12.9 percent increase in the Defense Ministry’s annual budget next year.
The government plans to spend an additional 47.5 billion New Taiwan dollars, for a total of NTD 415.1 billion ($13.8 billion) for the year.
The Defense Ministry said the increase is due to the Chinese Communists’ continued expansion of targeted military activities in recent years, the normalization of their harassment of waters and airspace near Taiwan with ships. and war planes.
Also on Thursday, the Defense Ministry said it tracked four Chinese navy ships and 15 warplanes in the region surrounding the island.
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