Source: Hot Air
Senator Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) is landing today in Taiwan for a surprise visit. Blackburn is the fourth prominent lawmaker to visit Taiwan, though the other three visitors brought along delegations with them. It is reported that Blackburn is traveling alone to Taiwan.
Blackburn’s office said that she was traveling back from a foreign trip to Fiji, the Solomon Islands, and Papua New Guinea this week when her surprise stop in Taiwan was announced Thursday morning.
The Indo-Pacific Region is the next frontier for the New Axis of Evil,” Blackburn said in a statement that did not mention her impending visit to Taiwan. “Meeting with leaders from Fiji, the Solomon Islands, and Papua New Guinea was an important step in showcasing America’s commitment to the region and expanding our strategic relationships.”
“Continuing these long-established partnerships is important to the success of both East Asian nations and the United States. I am grateful for their leadership. We must stand against the Chinese Communist Party,” she added.
In 2021, Senator Blackburn labeled Russia, China, Iran and North Korea “the new axis of evil.” She’s not wrong. I’m quite sure that Xi Jinping has heard her opinion. It will be interesting to see if or how he reacts to a fourth visit to Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen from an American lawmaker. Xi and other Chinese officials view visits by U.S. lawmakers as an infringement on America’s One China Policy. The United States acknowledges the Beijing government as the sole government of China. Blackburn’s name is probably on a list of naughty Americans somewhere in Xi’s sight.
Blackburn is flying on a military aircraft and will land at Songshan Airport, the same airport where Pelosi and her delegation landed earlier this month.
Earlier this week the Tennessee Republican met Prime Minister James Marape of Papua New Guinea and PM Manasseh Sogavare of the Solomon Islands.
The CNA report said the group was scheduled to meet Tsai and other members of Taiwan’s senior leadership on Friday morning local time. Taiwan’s Foreign Ministry, meanwhile, didn’t say whether Taipei was expecting any visitors.
A Financial Times report over the weekend said a third CODEL was due this week, although it was unclear which other U.S. lawmakers, if any, are in Blackburn’s delegation. Other details of the senator’s schedule are also unknown.
TVBS said the group would be arriving on a U.S. Army UC-35A passenger jet.
Pelosi’s visit was during the first week of August. Next, Democrat Senator Ed Markey arrived on August 14 with three other Democrats and one Republican in his delegation. Last week, Indiana Governor Holcomb, a Republican, led a delegation of Indiana officials to meet with President Tsai. It is being reported that Blackburn is traveling alone.
After Pelosi’s visit, Beijing conducted military drills to intimidate Taiwan and discourage any more American politicians from visiting Tsai. That didn’t work.
Beijing responded by announcing military drills that simulated a quasi-blockade of major Taiwanese ports, and its rocket forces fired 11 ballistic missiles into the waters around the island, raising tensions to their highest level since the mid-1990s.
The Chinese government had used Pelosi’s trip as a pretext to shift the Taiwan Strait status quo in its favor, White House officials said. Observers believe Beijing’s objective was to head off similar visits from foreign lawmakers in the future, but it has been unsuccessful thus far.
Today Tsai’s Cabinet proposed a double-digit increase to Taiwan’s defense spending in 2023. The new budget requires parliamentary approval. It will total $19.41B, a 13.9 percent year-on-year increase from the 2022 budget.
Safe travels, Senator Blackburn. I’m happy more Republicans are making the trip to show Taiwan support.