Marsha Blackburn: US Senator lands in Taiwan, vows not to be bullied by China

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Blackburn’s visit to the self-governing island follows by less than a month that of US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, whose trip was cited by Beijing as the trigger for several days of large-scale military exercises in which China fired missiles over Taiwan and flew waves of warplanes into its air defense identification zone.

China’s ruling Communist Party claims Taiwan is part of its territory, despite having never governed it, and has refused to rule out the use of force to bring it under control. Authorities in Taiwan said the Chinese military exercises simulated a possible attack on the island.

The US, through the Taiwan Relations Act, is legally obligated to provide Taipei with defensive weaponry, but it remains deliberately vague on whether it would defend the island in the event of a Chinese attack.

Blackburn, a Tennessee Republican who sits on the Senate Armed Services Committee, called Taiwan “our strongest partner in the Indo-Pacific Region.”

“I look forward to hearing directly from the nation’s leadership about their needs and how we can support freedom for the Taiwanese people,” she said upon her arrival aboard a US government jet.

In tweets Friday morning, the US senator reiterated her support.

“I will never kowtow to the Chinese Communist Party,” she said in one.

'New normal' across the Taiwan Strait as China threat looms ever closer

“I will continue to stand with the (Taiwanese) and their right to freedom and democracy. Xi Jinping doesn’t scare me,” she added later, referring to China’s leader.

Blackburn is scheduled to meet Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen on Friday morning, and will also meet the Secretary-General of the National Security Council Wellington Koo and Foreign Minister Joseph Wu during her three-day visit, Taiwan’s Foreign Ministry said.

China had no immediate comment on Blackburn’s visit, but has made plain its anger since Pelosi’s visit with both the military exercises and statements saying the actions of US politicians and government polices are threatening the status quo across the Taiwan Strait.

China’s Foreign Ministry condemned Pelosi for what it described as her “vicious and provocative actions,” saying her trip to Taiwan amounted to “seriously interfering in China’s internal affairs.”

“US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi insisted on visiting Taiwan in disregard of China’s serious concerns and firm opposition, seriously interfering in China’s internal affairs, seriously undermining China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, seriously trampling on the one-China principle, and seriously threatening the peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait,” the ministry said.

Gladys Tsai in Taipei contributed to this report.

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