Taiwan President Extends Olive Branch to China Amidst U.S. Lawmakers’ Visit Following Military Drills

These exercises were labeled as "punishment" in response to Lai's inauguration speech on Monday, which Beijing interpreted as another step towards Taiwan's formal independence.

Taiwan President Lai Ching-te extended goodwill and offered cooperation with China on Sunday, following two days of Chinese military exercises near the island.

Concurrently, a delegation of U.S. lawmakers arrived in Taipei.

China, which considers Taiwan a part of its territory, conducted military drills on Thursday and Friday.

These exercises were labeled as “punishment” in response to Lai’s inauguration speech on Monday, which Beijing interpreted as another step towards Taiwan’s formal independence.

China has consistently criticized Lai as a “separatist.” Lai rejects Beijing’s sovereignty claims, asserting that only Taiwan’s people can determine their future.

He has frequently proposed talks, but Beijing has consistently rebuffed these offers.

At a meeting of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) in Tainan, Lai called on China to “share the heavy responsibility of regional stability with Taiwan.”

According to his party, Lai also expressed his hope for “enhancing mutual understanding and reconciliation with China via exchanges and cooperation, creating mutual benefit and moving towards peace and common prosperity.”

Lai expressed gratitude to the United States and other nations for their concern over the Chinese exercises.

“The international community will not accept any country creating waves in the Taiwan Strait and affecting regional stability,” Lai added.

On Sunday, the first group of U.S. lawmakers to visit Taiwan since Lai took office arrived for a four-day visit. Led by Michael McCaul, the Republican chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, the delegation includes a bipartisan group of five other lawmakers.

They will meet with Lai on Monday to “exchange views on peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific,” according to Taiwan’s presidential office.

“Taiwan is a thriving democracy. The U.S. will continue to stand by our steadfast partner and work to maintain the status quo across the Taiwan Strait,” McCaul said in a statement.

Taiwan’s government condemned China’s war games. Over the past four years, China has conducted regular military activities around Taiwan to pressure the island’s government.

On Sunday, Taiwan’s defense ministry reported that the garrison on Erdan islet, part of the Taiwan-controlled Kinmen islands near China’s Xiamen and Quanzhou cities, discovered a “crude” cardboard box containing paper with political slogans in simplified Chinese characters.

The box was suspected to have been dropped by a drone, described as a “typical cognitive operation trick.”

In 2022, Taiwan shot down a drone off Kinmen after days of harassment. China’s defense ministry did not respond to calls outside of office hours.

Since the exercises began, China’s military has released numerous propaganda videos and animations directed at Taiwan.

The Eastern Theatre Command, which conducted the drills, released a video on Sunday showing rockets firing, referring to it as “cross-strait lethality.”