Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) on Thursday became the latest lawmaker to visit Taiwan, landing on the self-governing island after a string of visits by Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and other U.S. officials that has heightened tensions with China.
The visit by Blackburn, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, is likely to further anger Beijing, which views Taiwan as part of its territory and wants to reunify the mainland with the democratic island.
“Taiwan is our strongest partner in the Indo-Pacific Region,” Blackburn said in a statement.
“Regular high-level visits to Taipei are long-standing U.S. policy,” she added. “I will not be bullied by Communist China into turning my back on the island.”
Pelosi led a delegation to Taiwan earlier this month, becoming the highest-ranking U.S. official to visit the island in 25 years. China responded by conducting military drills for multiple days near the island after she left.
Blackburn applauded Pelosi’s visit alongside 25 other Republican senators.
A five-member delegation of lawmakers visited the Taiwan days later, prompting China to once again launch military drills following their visit.
Douglas Hsu, the director-general for North American affairs in Taiwan’s foreign ministry, greeted Blackburn at the airport. Blackburn arrived in Taiwan after stops in Fiji, the Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea.
Blackburn will meet with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen on Friday and will depart on Saturday, Taiwan’s Central News Agency reported.
“It’s time we focus on rewarding Taiwan’s commitment to democratic values and ensure they have the necessary resources to combat Communist China and the New Axis of Evil,” Blackburn tweeted after landing on the island.
Under the longstanding “One China” policy, the United States acknowledges — though does not endorse — Beijing’s claim to the island while it also vows to honor the Taiwan Relations Act, which commits the U.S. to providing Taiwan with the means to defend itself.