More US Lawmakers Set to Visit Taiwan, Defying Angry Beijing

Another group of US lawmakers will arrive in Taiwan on Thursday evening, Taiwan’s official Central News Agency reported, the third such visit this month and defying pressure from Beijing for these trips not to take place.

China, which claims Taiwan as its own territory against the strong objections of the democratically-elected government in Taipei, launched military drills near the island after U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi came in early August.

The Central News Agency did not name the lawmakers who were coming on Thursday, saying only that they would arrive on a U.S. military aircraft at Taipei’s downtown Songshan airport and would meet Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen on Friday.

Taiwan’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement that “important guests” would arrive after 11 p.m. (1500 GMT) at Songshan airport. It gave no details and declined to comment further.

The de facto U.S. embassy in Taipei declined to comment.

Pelosi’s visit infuriated China, which responded with test launches of ballistic missiles over Taipei for the first time, and by ditching some lines of dialogue with Washington, including theatre military talks and on climate change.

She was followed around a week later by five other U.S. lawmakers, with China’s military responding by carrying out more exercises near Taiwan.

The United States has no formal diplomatic ties with Taiwan but is bound by law to provide the island with the means to defend itself.

China has never ruled out using force to bring Taiwan under its control.

Taiwan’s government says the People’s Republic of China has never ruled the island and so has no right to claim it, and that only its 23 million people can decide their future.

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