House

Key House chairman wants to lead official trip to Taiwan in January

Greg Nash

House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Greg Meeks (D-N.Y.) said he wants to lead a bipartisan group of U.S. lawmakers to Taiwan next month to reassert America’s commitment to the self-ruling island that China sees as under its control.

“I want to go and I may go to Taiwan in January,” Meeks said Thursday evening in an interview with The Hill just off the House floor. 

The official trip by the Foreign Affairs Committee, known as a congressional member delegation, or CODEL, would mark the third such visit to Taiwan by a group of lawmakers in recent months. 

Meek’s remarks come amid heightened tensions between China and Taiwan and are sure to infuriate officials in Beijing, who earlier had issued stern warnings to U.S. lawmakers not to travel to the island.

“The administration and others have made it clear what our position is on Taiwan: We stand with Taiwan. We’re already making sure that they have the wherewithal to defend themselves, and we think it would be a big mistake for the PRC [People’s Republic of China] to try to go and invade it,” Meeks told The Hill. 

“We believe that the way they have existed for all this period of time, based upon the agreements, should remain.”

On Nov. 9, six GOP lawmakers — including Sens. John Cornyn (Texas), Tommy Tuberville (Ala.) and Mike Lee (Utah) — made a surprise visit, traveling to Taipei in a U.S. Navy C-40A plane.

Just weeks later, over the Thanksgiving break, a bipartisan group of five lawmakers on the House Veterans Affairs Committee, led by Chairman Mark Takano (D-Calif.), made a second surprise visit to the island. Reps. Elissa Slotkin (D-Mich.), Nancy Mace (R-S.C.), Colin Allred (D-Texas) and Sara Jacobs (D-Calif.) also attended. 

Both delegations met with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen and other top officials during their trips. And Meeks said he plans to do the same.

“Any time we travel in an official CODEL, we try to meet with the head of state,” he said.

The possible Taiwan visit would be one leg of a broader trip to Asia in January, Meeks said. An invitation would likely be extended to the more than 50 members of the Foreign Affairs Committee. 

“I believe there would be broad bipartisan interest in and participation on a CODEL to Taiwan, as it has never been more important for America to show support for our allies under threat,” said one Democrat on the Foreign Affairs panel who said he would attend such a trip.

But Foreign Affairs lawmakers are sure to face pressure from Beijing, as did some of their colleagues who made earlier visits to Taiwan. 

Slotkin, a former CIA analyst who joined the Takano delegation, told CNN that she and others received “strongly worded,” “angry” and “blunt” messages from the Chinese Embassy in Washington, warning them to call off the trip. They all ignored the threats.

Meeks said he won’t be deterred either.  

“I stand up and I speak out for what I believe, and no one can intimidate me to stop it,” he said.

Tags China Colin Allred Elissa Slotkin John Cornyn Mark Takano Mike Lee Nancy Mace Taiwan

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