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Top Taiwanese Lawmaker Visits US Capitol to Meet China Hard-Liners

(Bloomberg) -- Taiwan’s legislative speaker visited the US Capitol, where he planned to meet with members of a committee focused on competition with China as the Biden administration readies a $500 million fast-tracked weapons package for the island.

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You Si-kun, Taiwan’s top legislative official, is set to visit with members of the House Committee on Competition with China to discuss deepening economic and security ties, according to a person familiar with the plans who discussed them Monday on condition of anonymity.

Representative Mike Gallagher, the committee’s chair, said in a statement that the US needs to “arm Taiwan to the teeth” to head off a potential invasion by China, which considers the island part of its territory. Lawmakers have pushed the Biden administration to free up a backlog of US weapons sales.

“The United States needs to deliver on our promises and clear the $19 billion weapons backlog to Taiwan, conduct enhanced joint military training and reinforce our military posture throughout the region,” Gallagher, a Wisconsin Republican, said in a statement. “Deterring war is the only path to peace and stability, and it is incumbent upon elected officials to take decisive action to do so before it’s too late.”

President Joe Biden is looking to do so — possibly this week — with a $500 million weapons package for the island, according to people familiar with the plans. The administration will send weapons and support equipment from existing US stockpiles under what’s known as Presidential Drawdown Authority. It’s the same fast-track authority the US has used to arm Ukraine.

US Prepares to Fast Track $500 Million of Arms for Taiwan

The meeting on Capitol Hill comes just days after US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan met with his Chinese counterpart in Vienna for two days of what the White House called “substantive and constructive” meetings, a sign that the sides are trying to ease strains, including over US support for Taiwan and China’s claim to the island democracy.

China has vehemently protested past visits between US and Taiwanese officials, including House Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s meeting with Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen in California in April and the trip by McCarthy’s predecessor, Nancy Pelosi, to Taiwan last year.

Earlier: McCarthy Assures Taiwan’s Tsai That Ties With US Are Strong

On Monday morning, You was seen leaving McCarthy’s suite of offices at the Capitol, but McCarthy said he hadn’t met with the lawmaker personally.

You has served as president of Taiwan’s legislative body since February 2020 and was a founding member of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party in the 1980s. He served as Taiwan’s premier from 2002 to 2005 under President Chen Shui-bian, and as chairman of the DPP from 2006-2007.

(Updates in eighth paragraph that You didn’t meet with McCarthy)

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