Sen. Marsha Blackburn to land in Taiwan for surprise visit after calling China ‘New Axis of Evil’: source

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Sen. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., will land in Taiwan for an unannounced visit on Thursday, according to a source familiar with the trip.

Blackburn is only the latest in a series of U.S. lawmaker to fly to Taiwan, a trend that has outraged the Chinese government. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited the self-governed island in early August, and she was the highest-level U.S. official to do so since Speaker Newt Gingrich in 1997.

China, which has long claimed Taiwan as its own territory, argues the trips infringe on their sovereignty.

No other lawmakers are accompanying Blackburn on the visit. The Senator was already on her way home from a foreign trip visiting Fiji, the Solomon Islands, and Papua New Guinea this week, according to a Thursday morning statement from her office.

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The Indo-Pacific Region is the next frontier for the New Axis of Evil,” Blackburn said in a statement that did not mention her impending visit to Taiwan. “Meeting with leaders from Fiji, the Solomon Islands, and Papua New Guinea was an important step in showcasing America’s commitment to the region and expanding our strategic relationships.”

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“Continuing these long-established partnerships is important to the success of both East Asian nations and the United States. I am grateful for their leadership. We must stand against the Chinese Communist Party,” she added.

Blackburn’s visit is the latest since five members of Congress landed in Taiwan in mid-August. The group, lead by Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass, included Reps. John Garamendi, D-Calif; Alan Lowenthal, D-Calif.; Don Beyer, D-VA and Amata Radewagen, R-AS.

China has argued that visits by U.S. lawmakers infringe on America’s One China Policy, which states that the U.S. acknowledges the Beijing government as the sole government of China.

While the U.S. has agreed not to hold formal diplomatic relations with Taiwan, it has supplied the government with means of defense and other support.

Taiwan first split from mainland China following a civil war between democratic and communist forces in 1949.

This is a developing story. Check back soon for updates.

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