Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) met with Taiwanese President Tsai ing-Wen in Taipei on Tuesday amid soaring tensions between the US and China over Washington’s increasing support for the island.
Duckworth’s visit marked her second trip to Taiwan within one year as congressional delegations to the island are becoming more frequent. Duckworth said the purpose of this week’s trip was to “emphasize our support for Taiwan security.”
“I do want to say that it is more than just about military. It’s also about the economy,” Duckworth told Tsai. During their meeting, Tsai announced the US is planning to increase “cooperation” between the Taiwanese military and the US National Guard.
“The US Department of Defense is now proactively planning cooperation between the US National Guard and Taiwan’s defense forces,” Tsai said. “We look forward to closer and deeper Taiwan-US cooperation on matters of regional security.”
Details of the cooperation agreement aren’t clear, which is typical for military agreements between the US and Taiwan. Earlier reports suggested Taiwan may work with the Hawaii National Guard.
As expected, China strongly rebuked Duckworth’s visit to Taiwan. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian urged US lawmakers to “immediately stop official exchanges with Taiwan in any form and refrain from sending any wrong signals to the Taiwan independence separatist forces.”
“China will continue to take forceful measures to resolutely safeguard China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity,” Zhao added.
When Duckworth arrived in Taiwan on Monday, China flew 30 warplanes into Taiwan’s Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ). While there is much hype around these flights, an ADIZ is not a country’s airspace and the ADIZ concept is not recognized by international law. Chinese warplanes typically fly in the southwest corner of the ADIZ, which is far from the island of Taiwan, and the aircraft stay closer to mainland China in many instances.