China’s huge military drills around Taiwan have only made allies more determined to visit the island democracy and show solidarity, Taipei’s foreign minister Joseph Wu said Friday.
Beijing staged the unprecedented sea and air drills in retaliation for U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan this month, sending tensions to their highest level in decades.
U.S. politicians have made three visits in Pelosi’s wake, the latest being Tennessee Senator Marsha Blackburn, who met with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen on Friday.
“We will not stop making friends just because of the Chinese threats against Taiwan,” Wu told a briefing with foreign media.
Taiwan exists under constant threat of an invasion by China, which claims the self-ruled island as part of its territory to be seized one day — by force if necessary.
Beijing lashes out at any diplomatic action that might lend Taiwan legitimacy and has responded with growing anger to visits by Western officials and politicians.
Wu said China’s show of force had been counter-productive and “there will be more” visits to Taiwan by international dignitaries.
“Because of the military pressure that China has demonstrated against Taiwan, there are more people than ever who want to come and show their support,” Wu said.
“A lot of international friends have already told us that they are very interested to come to Taiwan and the purpose is very simple — just to show solidarity.”
Blackburn, a Republican and staunch supporter of former U.S. president Donald Trump, has said her trip was designed “to send a message to Beijing — we will not be bullied.”
Tsai said such visits “have reinforced Taiwan’s determination to defend itself” in her meeting with Blackburn.
The U.S. senator later delivered a hawkish speech.
“Anyone who has any sense of history knows that Xi Jinping will not stop threatening the safety and security of Taiwan simply because it would be in everyone’s best interest to do so,” she said, referring to China’s president.
“He is not a normal leader and he has no interest in normal reactions or relations with the rest of the world.”
Another congressional delegation led by Senator Ed Markey visited Taiwan shortly after Pelosi while China was still holding its military exercises.
Earlier this week, Republican governor of the state of Indiana, Eric Holcomb, arrived on the heels of the announcement of upcoming trade talks between Washington and Taipei.