Taiwan official says China bullying spurs foreign interest in visits to island

WASHINGTON (REUTERS) – China’s aggressive military response to US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan has increased interest from other countries’ parliaments in similar trips, the island’s top representative in the United States said on Wednesday (Aug 17).

China, which claims Taiwan as its territory, carried out its largest-ever military exercises around the island after a visit earlier this month by Pelosi.

Her visit was followed this week by five more US lawmakers.

The White House has said China “overreacted” to Pelosi’s visit.

It said Beijing used it as a pretext to try to change the status quo in the Taiwan Strait by launching missiles over Taiwan and staging blockade drills around the island.

“What China is doing is they are generating greater interest than ever in visiting Taiwan,” Taiwan’s top representative in Washington Hsiao Bi-khim told Reuters in an interview.

“We have seen since the visit parliaments from other countries also indicating an interest,” she said, naming Germany, Canada, Britain and Japan among countries that could possibly send delegations.

“The victim of bullying needs friends,” Hsiao said. “Their behaviour is generating so much attention and sympathy towards our situation,” she said of China’s military actions.

A delegation of Canadian lawmakers plans to visit Taiwan in October, Liberal Member of Canada’s Parliament Judy Sgro said earlier on Wednesday.

Beijing imposed sanctions on a Lithuanian minister who visited Taiwan days after Pelosi’s trip.

Asked if Taiwan would welcome a visit by a Republican speaker should the party take control of the House of Representatives after US midterm elections, Hsiao said: “We have been open for decades to congressional delegations, and that applies to members of any party.”

China has never renounced using force to bring Taiwan under its control and views visits by other countries’ officials to Taiwan as sending an encouraging signal to the island’s pro-independence camp.

Taiwan rejects Beijing’s sovereignty claims and says only its people can decide its future.