AP.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) is leading a a six-member group of U.S. lawmakers on a two-day visit to Taiwan on Thursday, a visit that has sparked anger from Beijing.

Graham along with Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), the chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, and Sens. Richard Burr (R-N.C.), Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) and Rep. Ronny Jackson (R-Texas) landed in Taiwan’s Songshan Airport in Taipei on Friday.

Graham tweeted that the people of Taiwan are “great allies of the United States” and called Taiwan “a beacon of freedom in a troubled region.”

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian in Beijing denounced the visit on Thursday, saying “China is firmly opposed to any form of official exchanges between the U.S. and Taiwan.”

“Relevant U.S. lawmakers should abide by the one-China policy upheld by the U.S. government. The U.S. should … stop official contacts with Taiwan, and avoid going further down the dangerous path,” Zhao said at a daily briefing.

“We will continue to take strong measures to resolutely safeguard national sovereignty and territorial integrity,” Zhao said.

China’s military also announced it had conducted military drills around Taiwan on Friday as the two-day visit by the delegation of U.S. lawmakers was underway.

China cautioned the U.S. against supporting Taiwan and trying to build a Pacific version of NATO earlier this year amid the crisis in Ukraine, which is resisting a Russian invastion.

Moscow’s actions raised fears about the future of Taiwan, over which China claims sovereignty.

More generally, worries about a Chinese invasion of Taiwan had stepped up over the last year.

The visit has been welcomed by Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen, who tweeted a picture of the delegation’s arrival and called them “true friends” to his country. “I look forward to working with you to strengthen our countries’ partnership,” she said.

Taiwan’s Foreign Ministry said the delegation would “exchange views with our officials on various issues of importance to Taiwan-U.S. relations.”

The delegation met with Tsai, Foreign Minister Joseph Wu and Minister of National Defense Chiu Kuo-cheng on Friday.

Tags Bob Menendez China China-Taiwan tensions congressional delegation Lindsey Graham Richard Burr Ronny Jackson Russia-Ukraine war Taiwan Tsai Ing-Wen Zhao Lijian
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