US senator visits Taiwan as China steps up military threat

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TAIPEI, Taiwan (TAUT) — During a visit to Taiwan, U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth reiterated her support for the island in the face of rising Chinese threats.

Duckworth met with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen on Tuesday and stressed the close economic, political and security relationship between Taipei and Washington.

China claims Taiwan as its own territory to be annexed by force and on Monday sent 30 military planes into airspace near the island. Taiwan’s Defense Ministry said it responded by jamming jets, alerting air defense missile systems and issuing radio warnings.

In her remarks to Tsai, Duckworth said she wanted to “emphasize our support for Taiwan’s security.”

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“I want to say that this is not just a military issue. It’s also about economics,” Duckworth, a former Army helicopter pilot and National Guard lieutenant colonel, told Tsai.

Duckworth also cited strong bipartisan support for a bill she introduced to promote cooperation between the Taiwan Armed Forces and the National Guard.

Tsai thanked the U.S. government and Congress “for the importance they place on peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait,” as well as Duckworth herself for “closely monitoring security issues related to Taiwan”.

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Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has put China’s threats against Taiwan in a new light, prompting increased support for arms sales and political support from Democrats and Republicans alike.

China upped the ante again in May, reaching out to the Solomon Islands and nine other island nations with a sweeping security proposal that, even if only partially realized, could give it a much needed presence in the Pacific. closer to Hawaii, Australia, New Zealand and on the doorstep of the strategic US territory of Guam.

This is seen as a potential avenue to block access to Taiwan by the United States and its allies should China follow through on its threat to invade the island.

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In a speech Thursday, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said President Joe Biden’s administration aims to lead the international bloc opposed to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine into a broader coalition to counter what he sees as a more serious and long-term threat to China’s world order. .

While relations with Taiwan are informal out of respect for Beijing, the United States remains its main supplier of defensive weapons and its source of political support in international organizations where China blocks Taiwan’s participation.

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