US lawmaker who chairs China committee arrives in Taiwan

By Thomson Reuters Feb 21, 2024 | 6:04 PM

TAIPEI (Reuters) – U.S. Representative Mike Gallagher, who chairs the House of Representatives select committee on China, arrived in Taiwan on Thursday with a delegation of other lawmakers and will meet senior Taiwanese leaders.

Gallagher, who is being accompanied by four other lawmakers on a trip ending Saturday, has been a strong friend of Chinese-claimed Taiwan and a fierce critic of China.

“The delegation will meet with senior Taiwan leaders and members of civil society to discuss U.S.-Taiwan relations, regional security, trade and investment, and other significant issues of mutual interest,” the de facto U.S. embassy in Taiwan said in a statement.

In December, his committee issued an extensive list of bipartisan recommendations to reset U.S. economic ties with China, setting out legislative goals for 2024 that it said would prevent the U.S. from becoming the “economic vassal” of its chief geopolitical rival.

Gallagher, who said this month he will not run for re-election, is likely to meet both President Tsai Ing-wen and Vice President Lai Ching-te, who won election as Taiwan’s next president at elections last month and will take office on May 20.

Gallagher, a member of both the House Armed Services and intelligence committees, has spent much of his time this year chairing the Select Committee on the Chinese Communist Party, a bipartisan panel charged with investigating U.S. relations with China and developing strategies to improve the country’s ability to compete with China.

China views democratically governed Taiwan as its territory. The government in Taipei rejects that position, saying only the island’s people can decide their future.

Beijing routinely denounces visits by foreign lawmakers to Taiwan, believing it seeks to stoke tensions and interferes in China’s affairs.

Taiwan says it can invite whomever it wants and that China has no right to speak for Taiwan’s people.

(Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Leslie Adler and David Gregorio)