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3 US senators, including Alaska’s Sullivan, will visit Taiwan, discuss relations

Commercial and residential buildings appear against the skyline in Taipei, Taiwan, on June 2, 2020. Bloomberg photo by I-Hwa Cheng.

TAIPEI, Taiwan — A bipartisan group of three U.S. senators will travel to Taiwan next week to meet with senior government officials and discuss U.S.-Taiwan relations and other issues, the de facto U.S. Embassy in Taiwan announced Saturday.

Sunday’s trip is likely to anger China, which claims Taiwan as its territory and objects to Taiwan being called a country. Like most nations, the U.S. has no formal diplomatic ties with Taiwan.

Democratic Sen. Tammy Duckworth of Illinois and Republican Sen. Dan Sullivan of Alaska, members of the Armed Services Committee, and Democratic Sen. Christopher Coons of Delaware, a member of the Foreign Relations Committee, will visit Taiwan as part of a larger trip to the Indo-Pacific region, the American Institute in Taiwan said in a statement Saturday.

“The bipartisan congressional delegation will meet with senior Taiwan leaders to discuss U.S.-Taiwan relations, regional security, and other significant issues of mutual interest,” the AIT said.

Taiwan’s Foreign Ministry thanked the three senators in a separate statement, saying the trip demonstrated unanimous and firm support for U.S.-Taiwan relations.

It was not clear how long the senators would stay in Taiwan, and no other details were provided about their itinerary.

China has in recent months increased pressure on the self-ruled island, including flying warplanes into Taiwan’s airspace. Taiwan, which is currently facing its most serious coronavirus outbreak of the pandemic, has accused China of hindering its efforts to acquire COVID-19 vaccines.

Taiwan and China split amid civil war in 1949, and most Taiwanese favor maintaining the current state of de facto independence while engaging in robust economic exchanges with the mainland.

The vast improvements in China’s military capabilities and its increasing activity around Taiwan have raised concerns in the U.S., which is legally bound to ensure Taiwan is capable of defending itself and to regard all threats to the island’s security as matters of “grave concern.”

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