Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Ala., speaks during the House Republicans press conference on the US military withdrawal from Afghanistan in the Rayburn Room of the US Capitol on Tuesday, May 31. August 2021.
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WASHINGTON – A bipartisan congressional delegation led by House Armed Services Committee Chairman Mike Rogers landed in Taiwan on Tuesday for a three-day visit. according to the American Institute in Taiwan.
The Alabama Republican was accompanied on the trip by several members of the committee, including its ranking member, Adam Smith, D-Wash., as well as several other committee members and lawmakers.
The delegation will meet with President Tsai Ing-wen on Wednesday, according to the Taiwanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The visit comes at a delicate time for the United States’ relationship with China, its largest trading partner and strategic competitor in the political, economic and security arenas.
Taiwan is at the center of a broader effort by Washington to contain China’s military and diplomatic expansion across the Indo-Pacific. Taiwan is a self-governing democracy, but China views Taiwan as a province of mainland China. Beijing views any attempt by Taiwan’s leaders to act independently of Beijing as a threat to Chinese sovereignty.
Who is in the congressional delegation to Taiwan?
- Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Ala., Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee
- Representative Adam Smith, D-Washington, ranking member of the House Armed Services Committee
- Representative Jill Tokuda, D-Hawaii
- Representative Cory Mills, Republican of Florida.
- Rep. John Garamendi, D-Calif.
- Rep. Joe Courtney, D-Conn.
- Representative David Rouzer, RN.C.
- Rep. Gary Palmer, R-Ala.
- James Moylan, Republican, Guam delegate to the House
Rogers’ trip to Taiwan marks at least the third time this year that members of Congress have made public trips to the island, but the first time Rogers has done so.
The fact that Rogers chairs the committee tasked with funding and oversight of the US military will probably not go unnoticed by Beijing or Taipei.
A spokeswoman for the House Armed Services Committee declined to comment on the trip.
Congressional visits to geopolitically sensitive areas like Taiwan are typically kept secret until the delegation arrives, and any public comment on the trip is typically reserved until after it ends.
Rogers’ visit to Taipei comes as the Biden administration is taking several steps to stabilize the bilateral relationship with China, which hit a low point in February after the United States shot down a Chinese surveillance balloon.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken visited Beijing in June, a trip that was originally scheduled for February but was postponed in response to the spat with the spy balloon.
At the time, “the relationship was at a point of instability and both parties recognized the need to work to stabilize it,” Blinken said at a news conference at the end of his June visit.
“My hope and expectation is: we will have better communications, better engagement going forward,” he added.
Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen is reportedly planning to visit China in July, Bloomberg News reported this week. The Treasury Department declined to comment on her travel plans.
But while visits by top Biden administration officials to China can help normalize the US-China relationship, visits like Rogers’ delegation to Taiwan tend to have the opposite effect.
Anti-China sentiment is much more visible on Capitol Hill, where it is one of the few issues on which both sides agree, than it is in the White House, where US business interests and the need to avoid military conflict They are higher priorities.
Beijing has yet to comment on the trip. A spokeswoman for the National Security Council did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the congressional visit.