TAIPÉI, Taiwan (AP) – Five US lawmakers met with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen on Friday morning during a surprise one-day visit that seeks to reaffirm Washington’s “strong” support for the island. autonomous.

The bipartisan group of legislators from the House of Representatives arrived in Taiwan on Thursday night and was scheduled to meet with senior officials, including Tsai, said the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT), the de facto embassy of the country. No further details of his schedule are known.

The visit comes at a time when tensions between Taiwan and China are at their highest in decades. Taiwan has been self-governing since the two sides separated in the 1949 civil war, but Beijing considers the island to be part of its territory.

“When the news of our trip broke yesterday, my office received a strong message from the Chinese embassy telling me to cancel the trip,” Democratic legislator Elissa Slotkin of Michigan, who is part of the delegation, wrote on Twitter.

The group is also made up of Democrats Mark Takano, of California; Colin Allred, from Texas, and Sara Jacobs, from California, and by Republican Nancy Mace, from South Carolina.

“We are here in Taiwan this week to remind our partners and allies, after two difficult years we have overcome, that our commitment and shared responsibility for a free and safe Indo-Pacific region remains stronger than ever,” said Takano.

Takano added that the relationship between Washington and Taipei is “solid as a rock and has remained strong as the ties between us have tightened.”

Tsai, who received the legislators and the director of the AIT in the Presidential Office in Taipei, highlighted that the cooperation between the two parties in veterans, economic and commercial matters, and reiterated the island’s closeness to the United States.

“Taiwan will continue to strengthen cooperation with the United States to uphold our shared values ​​of freedom and democracy and to ensure peace and stability in the region,” Tsai said.

The visit is the third by US lawmakers to Taiwan this year and comes just weeks after six Republican congressmen.

In this file photo, Republican Congresswoman Nancy Mace speaks to supporters during election night, Nov. 3, 2020, in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina. (AP Photo / Mic Smith, file)

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