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US lawmakers visit Taiwan following island's elections

The US is Taiwan's main backer, but its support has angered the Chinese Communist Party on the mainland

The US is Taiwan's main backer, but its support has angered the Chinese Communist Party on the mainland

Two US lawmakers arrived in Taiwan on Wednesday, marking the first trip by US officials since the pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party won a third consecutive term in this month's presidential election.

The island's presidential election was won earlier this month by Lai Ching-te of the Democratic Progressive Party. China considers him a "separatist". Beijing warned ahead of the vote that his victory would be the beginning of "war and decline" for Taiwan.

US seeks to 'strengthen' relationship with Taiwan

The two co-chairs of the US Congressional Taiwan Caucus, Representatives Ami Bera, a Democrat from California, and Mario Díaz-Balart, a Republican from Florida, plan to "engage with senior officials and business leaders," Bera's office said in a statement, without naming those they would meet with.

According to the statement, the aim of the visit is "to reaffirm US support for Taiwan following their successful democratic elections, express solidarity in their shared commitment to democratic values, and explore opportunities to further strengthen the robust economic and defense relationship between the United States and Taiwan."

Although the US does not maintain official diplomatic relations with Taiwan, Washington is the democratically run island's main supporter and arms supplier.

Taiwan loses diplomatic allies

The visit comes on the heels of a surprise announcement by the Pacific nation of Nauru, just days after Taiwan's presidential election, that it was severing ties and switching allegiance to Beijing.

Nauru's announcement overshadowed an earlier visit last week by an unofficial delegation sent by the administration of US President Joe Biden to congratulate Lai.

The switch means that only 12 states, including the Holy See, now formally recognize Taiwan.

Beijing claims the island as its territory and has never renounced the use of force to bring it under its control.

dh/ab (AP, AFP)