China denied entry visas to a US congressional delegation, with Chinese officials telling one congressman’s staff members the visas would be granted for their trip only if they canceled a stop in Taiwan.
US Representative Sean Patrick Maloney said in a Wall Street Journal opinion piece on Sunday that the quid pro quo amounted to “visa blackmail, designed to stanch the longstanding tradition of robust US congressional engagement with Taiwan.”
Maloney warned Beijing that “ham-handed and obtusely enforced pressure campaigns“ would only “invigorate congressional support for Taiwan.”
He said he would be exploring ways for Congress to “reinforce US support for Taiwan” in the coming months, although he did not give any indication as to whether congressional leaders or the White House had signed on to his intentions.
Maloney visited Taiwan and met with President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) at the Presidential Office on Monday last week.
Tsai thanked the US Congress for supporting Taiwan and expressed hope that Taipei and Washington “will work even more closely to further strengthen our mutually beneficial partnership,” the Presidential Office said in a statement.
She also thanked Maloney for his staunch support for Taiwan, particularly his cosponsorship of the Taiwan Travel Act, which was signed into law in March last year, the statement said.
US support for Taiwan has been expanding, with US Senator Ted Cruz last week becoming the first US senator to attend the Double Ten National Day ceremony in Taipei in 35 years.
US Senator Cory Gardner and Minister of Foreign Affairs Joseph Wu (吳釗燮) last week wrote a commentary in the Washington-based Hill newspaper, calling for strengthening Taiwan-US relations to counter rising Chinese influence in the Pacific.
Additional reporting by staff writer
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