‘Xi Jinping doesn’t scare me’: US lawmaker Marsha Blackburn lands in Taiwan for 3-day visit

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US Senator Marsha Blackburn on Thursday arrived in Taiwan and stated that she will not be bullied by China and its President Xi Jinping, as she became the latest US official after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to visit the island.

“I will continue to stand with the Taiwanese and their right to freedom and democracy. Xi Jinping doesn’t scare me,” Marsha Blackburn said in a tweet.

On August 2, Pelosi, head of one of three branches of the US government, became the highest-ranking elected American official to visit Taiwan since then-Speaker Newt Gingrich made a trip to Taipei in 1997.

Pelosi’s trip triggered angry reactions from China as it claims Taiwan as its own. As a counter-measure, President Xi then ordered intense military exercises in the Taiwan Strait and the Chinese military flew warplanes into the island’s air defence identification zone. To date, Taiwan effectively remains surrounded by Chinese warships.

Blackburn, a Republican from Tennessee, in a series of tweets reiterated US support for Taiwan and termed China the “new axis of evil”.

“It’s time we focus on rewarding Taiwan’s commitment to democratic values and ensure they have the necessary resources to combat Communist China and the New Axis of Evil. That’s why I’m in Taiwan,” she said after arriving in Taipei.

I will never kowtow to the Chinese Communist Party, added Blackburn, who is part of the Senate’s Commerce and Armed Services Committees.

During her three-day “surprise visit,” Blackburn is scheduled to meet the Secretary-General of the National Security Council, Wellington Koo, and Foreign Minister Joseph Wu.

Taiwan and China split in 1949 after the Communists won a civil war on the mainland. The US maintains informal relations and defense ties with Taiwan even as it recognises Beijing as the government of China.

READ | 3 critical moments in China-Taiwan relations: A look back

READ | Pelosi in Taiwan: A US-China wrestling match to decide the new big boss

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