President Joe Biden sent a delegation of former senior defense and security officials to Taiwan on Tuesday in order to demonstrate ongoing support for the independent nation amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, a senior administration official said, according to Reuters.
Led by former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mike Mullen, the trip comes as Chinese President Xi Jinping continues to claim the island nation belongs to China. Xi has vowed to regain control of Taiwan, and Taiwanese leaders fear China may strike while the island’s western allies are distracted in Europe.
Meghan O’Sullivan, a former deputy national security advisor to former President George W. Bush, and Michele Flournoy, a former undersecretary of defense for former President Barack Obama, are also part of the delegation, the official said.
Mike Green and Evan Medeiros, two former National Security Council senior directors for Asia, joined the trip, as well, in order to “demonstrate [the United States’] continued robust support for Taiwan.”
“The selection of these five individuals sends an important signal about the bipartisan U.S. commitment to Taiwan and its democracy, and demonstrates that the Biden administration’s broader commitment to Taiwan remains rock solid,” the official said, as reported by Reuters.
The official noted that the Biden administration would consider “any effort to determine the future of Taiwan by other than peaceful means a threat to the peace and security of the Western Pacific.”
“The United States will maintain the capacity to resist any resort to force or other forms of coercion that would jeopardize the security or the social or economic system of the people of Taiwan,” the official added.
During the short trip – the officials are expected to leave on Wednesday – the delegation will meet with Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen, as well as Defense Minister Chiu Kuo-cheng and other top Taiwanese officials.
Tsai’s office said the trip shows officials that U.S.-Taiwan relations are “rock solid.”
Former U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is planning a separate trip to Taiwan and has plans to meet with Tsai later this week.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said the visit won’t impact China’s perspective on Taiwan.
“The will of the Chinese people to defend our country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity is immovable. Whoever United States sends to show support for Taiwan is bound to fail,” Wang said.
“If United States is trying to threaten and pressure China with this then we need to tell them that in the face of the Great Wall of steel forged by 1.4 billion Chinese people, any military deterrence is but scrap metal,” Wang continued.
“The gimmick of having a U.S. warship sail through the Taiwan Strait should be left to those who foolishly believe in hegemony.”