A delegation of US lawmakers visiting Taiwan has signaled the “strategic clarity” of Washington’s policy toward Taiwan, and they might visit Japan or South Korea next to promote the US’ Pacific Deterrence Initiative, a military affairs expert said yesterday.
A US Navy C-40A aircraft, reportedly carrying six US lawmakers, on Tuesday afternoon departed from Manila and landed at Taipei International Airport (Songshan airport) later in the day.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs later on Tuesday confirmed that a group of US lawmakers had arrived in Taiwan, while the American Institute in Taiwan referred reporters to the office of US Senator John Cornyn.
Cornyn is one of the US senators who is sponsoring a draft Taiwan Deterrence Act introduced at the US Senate last week.
His office had yet to respond to Taipei Times’ questions about the visit as of press time last night.
Chinese-language media yesterday reported that the delegation met with President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) in the morning and visited the Ministry of National Defense to be briefed on the threat to Taiwan from China.
The ministries had no comment on the delegation’s itinerary.
The US military aircraft did not refrain from letting China know it was flying from Manila to Taipei, as it had its flight radar on throughout the flight, the Institute for National Defense and Security Research’s Su Tzu-yun (蘇紫雲) told the Taipei Times by telephone.
Su — who is director of the institute’s Division of Defense Strategy and Resources — was a speaker at a defense ministry news conference on Tuesday, at which it released a national defense report.
He said that he did not meet the US visitors.
If media reports that the delegation is to remain in Taiwan for three days are true, the airplane would be parked at the airport’s military apron for the duration, which would show Washington’s trust in Taiwan, despite the lack of formal ties, he said.
These signals demonstrate that Washington’s policy toward Taiwan has moved from “strategic ambiguity” toward “strategic clarity,” he said, but added that the government cannot reveal too much about the delegation’s itinerary at this time.
The visit can be viewed as an attempt to boost Taiwan-US cooperation in military affairs, Su said.
Asked if the visit might lead to new arms sales, Su said that US lawmakers would usually not be directly involved in such matters.
Washington’s arms sales to foreign partners have to go through a rigorous process, including a request tendered by the defense ministry, followed by other notification and review procedures, he said.
“If you see our #tanks and #IFVs roaming on the roads, keep calm and carry on. #ROCArmy is conducting quarterly routine #readiness training this week, making sure they have the home field advantage when defending our homeland,” the defense ministry wrote on Twitter yesterday, referring to infantry fighting vehicles.
Pentagon spokesman John Kirby at an informal briefing on Tuesday said that members of the US Congress traveled to Taiwan by military jet, which he said is customary for travel of that kind.
“Kirby noted that congressional visits to Taiwan are relatively common and in keeping with US obligations under the Taiwan Relations Act,” the US Department of Defense said in an online statement.
Beijing said that the “risky and provocative actions” are “doomed to end in failure.”
“Colluding with Taiwan independence forces is a dangerous game and playing with fire will result in burning themselves,” Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Wang Wenbin (汪文斌) told a news briefing, calling the visit a “clumsy performance.”
Additional reporting by AFP and Reuters
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