US Congressional Delegation Led by Rep. Gallagher Visits Taiwan to Boost Ties

The visit comes more than a month after Lai Ching-te, the current Taiwanese vice president, was elected to be Taiwan’s next president.
US Congressional Delegation Led by Rep. Gallagher Visits Taiwan to Boost Ties
U.S. Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-Wis.) attends a meeting with Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen at the presidential palace in Taipei, Taiwan, on Feb. 22, 2024. (Ben Blanchard/Reuters)

Members of the House Select Committee on the Chinese Communist Party arrived on Feb. 22 in Taiwan for a congressional visit in a show of support for the democratic-led island and to strengthen U.S.–Taiwan relations.

The delegation, led by the committee’s chairman, Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-Wis.), is set to meet with senior Taiwanese officials and discuss U.S.–Taiwan relations, trade, and regional security, among other key issues. The visit is a part of the delegation’s trip to the Indo–Pacific region.

“Time and again, Taiwan has shown the world how to stand up to the CCP’s bullying and not only survive but thrive,” Mr. Gallagher said after arriving. “We are thrilled to be in Taipei to show our support for our friends in Taiwan, President-elect Lai, and the newly elected Legislative Yuan. The United States stands with Taiwan.

“By promoting deeper ties between our leaders and our economies, we can enhance peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait.”

The visit comes more than a month after Lai Ching-te, the current Taiwanese vice president from the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), was elected president. Mr. Lai’s victory gave the DPP—which the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) sees as a threat to its goal of taking over Taiwan—a third consecutive four-year term in power.

Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen said the visit demonstrates “staunch U.S. support for Taiwan’s democracy through concrete action.”

“Your visit further highlights the close partnership between Taiwan and the United States,” President Tsai said in a welcome speech. “Together, we are safeguarding freedom and democracy and maintaining regional peace.”

Since its founding in January 2023, the Select Committee on the CCP has strongly supported Taiwan. It has published multiple reports and policy recommendations regarding the self-ruled democratic island. Its firm and assertive position against the Chinese regime has garnered rare bipartisan support on Capitol Hill.

A high-profile visit in 2022 by former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has sparked a succession of congressional trips to Taiwan to show support for the island.

Military Support

Commenting on the visit, Rep. Don Bacon (R-Neb.) told The Epoch Times’ sister outlet NTD on Feb. 21 that the trip sends a strong message to the Chinese regime.

“If you’re afraid to stand by Taiwan, China’s communist government will see that as a weakness, and then will try to push it even further,” he said. “So I think it’s very important that elected leaders such as myself and others visit Taiwan.

Mr. Bacon also said the United States should provide weapons to the island to counter growing military threats and provocation from the regime in Beijing.

“We should be very clear about providing weapons and all the material needs that will help with deterrence. The goal here is to deter an attack from China and send high-quality weapons, anti-shipping missiles, mines, [and] very good, high-quality air defense capabilities that serve as a defense. Yes, China will complain. But I think in the end, they'll be deterred. And that’s the goal,” he said.

The United States has had no formal diplomatic ties with Taiwan since Washington changed its diplomatic recognition in favor of Beijing in 1979. However, the two sides have a robust relationship based on the Taiwan Relations Act, a law that authorizes the United States to provide the island with military equipment for self-defense.
According to the Reagan National Defense Survey in November 2023, a growing number of Americans support Taiwan, with 46 percent in favor of sending U.S. forces to defend the democratic-ruled island if invaded, up from 39 percent in 2019. To deter the possibility of Chinese invasion, 60 percent of Americans supported increasing the presence of U.S. troops near the island.
Last year, Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Ala.), chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, led a bipartisan congressional delegation to Taiwan amid calls in Congress for a boost in funding for Taiwan’s defense.

Arms Sales

Washington has made multiple arms sales to the island nation in recent years to help it counter the CCP’s military harassment.
In August 2023, the Biden administration decided for the first time to bolster Taiwan’s self-defense through a State Department program typically used to assist sovereign nations. A package of $80 million of military equipment was allotted via the Foreign Military Financing program.

Also in August, the United States approved a $500 million sale of military equipment to Taiwan, including infrared search and track systems for F-16 fighter jets.

In December 2022, President Joe Biden signed into law the Taiwan Enhanced Resilience Act (TERA) as part of the 2023 National Defense Authorization Act. The TERA authorizes $10 billion in grants and loans to provide military equipment to Taiwan over the next five years to deter CCP aggression.
In 2022, Taiwan’s defense ministry announced one of the biggest arms deals in recent years when it agreed to buy 100 Sidewinder air-to-air missiles, 60 Harpoon anti-ship missiles, and other military equipment from the United States.
The Chinese regime has ramped up pressure against Taiwan in recent years, consistently deploying military aircraft and vessels close to the island on an almost daily basis, aiming to erode Taipei’s defenses.
Chinese leader Xi Jinping has vowed to achieve the “reunification” of Taiwan, which the CCP has never ruled. He has explicitly stated his willingness to use force to achieve this goal.
Frank Fang contributed to this report.