- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 7, 2022

A U.S. congressional delegation has arrived unannounced in Taiwan, extending a string of official contacts that have infuriated mainland China and sent tensions soaring across the Taiwan Strait and the region.

Taiwanese officials said the eight-member delegation was headed by Rep. Stephanie Murphy, Florida Democrat and vice chairwoman of the House Armed Services subcommittee on intelligence and special operations.

“The delegation will meet with senior Taiwan leaders to discuss U.S.-Taiwan relations, regional security, trade and investment, global supply chains, and other significant issues of mutual interest,” the de facto U.S. embassy in Taipei said in a statement.

China‘s communist regime, which claims the self-ruled island democracy as its own and gas vowed to take it over some day, has angrily denounced the visits — in particular one by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi last month — as a violation of the U.S. “one China” policy and a signal of encouragement for pro-independence forces in Taiwan.

A number of U.S. state governors also have made trade trips to Taiwan in recent weeks.

Taiwan’s Foreign Ministry said Wednesday that Ms. Murphy’s delegation — like that of Mrs. Pelosi — would meet with President Tsai Ing-wen during the visit.

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The Biden administration has insisted there has been no change in official U.S. policy regarding Taiwan and said Beijing’s menacing military maneuvers in response to the visits were an “overreaction.”

The delegation arrived Wednesday in Taipei shortly after it was revealed that Chinese President Xi Jinping would be making his first trip outside his country in nearly three years, a trip that will include a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Mr. Xi, who is expected to be confirmed for an unprecedented third five-year term as head of the Chinese Communist Party and the government next month, will attend the two-day Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) security summit in Samarkand, Uzbekistan starting Sept. 15.

Andrey Denisov, the outgoing Russian ambassador to Beijing, confirmed the trip and the bilateral meeting Wednesday, the Reuters news agency reported.

China is the main mover within the 20-year-old SCO, whose membership includes Russia, India, Pakistan and a number of Central Asian states. Iran is on course to join the security bloc in the near future.

Both Mr. Putin and Mr. Xi have done virtually no international travel since the COVID-19 pandemic struck in late 2019. Mr. Putin has recently made a couple of international visits, and this will be Mr. Xi’s first known trip outside China‘s borders in 32 months.

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Mr. Putin and Mr. Xi last met at February’s Beijing Olympics and signed a wide-ranging cooperation agreement just weeks before Mr. Putin launched his invasion of Ukraine.

• David R. Sands can be reached at dsands@washingtontimes.com.

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