In a move to support Taiwan, which faces rising Chinese pressure, a group of US lawmakers landed on the island on Thursday for a surprise visit. This group of six lawmakers also included the chairman of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee Bob Menendez and senior Republican Senator Lindsey Graham.
While the United States does not hold any formal relations with Taiwan, it still remains as a crucial international backer in addition to being an arms supplier. The democratically governed island has been encouraged and comforted on numerous occasions by the constant support from the United States.
The Biden administration has frequently mentioned its "rock-solid" allegiance to Taiwan, which has led to sour the already poor relations with its Chinese counterpart. The lawmakers were greeted by the Taiwanese Foreign Minister Joseph Wu as they arrived at Taipei's downtown Songshan airport on a U.S. Air Force aircraft.
In an effort to rankle China this visit is believed to be the result of the renaming of Taiwan's de facto embassy in Washington as the "Taiwan Representative Office." Earlier this year a bipartisan group of U.S. lawmakers proposed matching bills in the Senate and House of Representatives which required the United States to negotiate the renaming.
The Democratic chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Bob Menendez sponsored the Senate bill along with Republican Senator Marco Rubio, led by Republican John Curtis and Democrat Chris Pappas on the House version.
The office is currently referred to as the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office (TECRO), utilizing the name of the island's capital city. If these changes are made official, any change in the office's name could serve as an example for smaller countries to take similar steps to increase engagement with Taiwan, which the Chinese claim their own territory.
On their two-day visit the group is scheduled to meet Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen on Friday morning. "The Presidential Office looks forward to continuing to deepen the Taiwan-US partnership through this face-to-face exchange, and continuing to work together to contribute to global and regional peace, stability, prosperity and development," Presidential Office spokesman Xavier Chang said in a statement.
He later added that the surprise visit stands as evidence to the "rock solid" nature of Taiwan-U.S. relations and displays the bipartisan U.S. support for Taiwan.