The US delegation visiting Taiwan, which is in a sovereignty dispute with China, met with the island's incumbent leader Tsai Ing-wen and newly elected leader Lai Ching-te.

The US delegation, which visited the island following the presidential and parliamentary elections held on January 13th, sent a message of "continuing to work together to maintain peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait," Taiwan's CNA news agency reported.

The delegation met with Tsai, the island's incumbent leader, Lai, its newly elected leader, and Hsiao Bi-khim, Taiwan's former Washington Representative.

The delegation, which included former US National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley and former US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State James Steinberg, was accompanied by Laura Rosenberger, the President of the American Institute of Taiwan in Washington, which is the de facto representative office of the United States.

In her meeting with the delegation, Tsai said the visit demonstrated the US support for Taiwan's democracy and was evidence of the close relationship between the US and her country.

Lai emphasized that they will continue to maintain peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait on the foundation established by Tsai and expressed their hope that the US will continue to support Taiwan and deepen bilateral cooperation.

The visit came right after the elections

The delegation of former senior US government officials arrived on the island yesterday, a day after the elections, for a three-day visit.

A pre-visit statement from the American Institute in Taiwan said the two former senior officials were "visiting Taiwan in their private capacity at the request of the US government."

Hadley served as national security adviser to former US President George W. Bush from 2005-2009.

Steinberg served as assistant secretary of state under US President Barack Obama from 2009 to 2011.

Washington sent a similar "unofficial" delegation to the island after the presidential election in 2020, when Taiwanese leader Tsai was elected for the first time.

Reaction from China

The delegation's visit drew the reaction of China, which has objected to US officials having official contacts with Taiwan.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mao Ning said at a daily press conference in Beijing that the Taiwan elections "are the internal affairs of a region of China" and added, "China opposes the US establishing official relations with Taiwan in any way or on any grounds and interfering in Taiwan's affairs."

Urging the US to adhere to the "one China" principle and abide by its commitment not to support Taiwan's independence, Spokesperson Mao said, "The US should be extremely careful in handling Taiwan-related issues, not to vague and eviscerate the 'one China' principle, and avoid sending the wrong message to separatists advocating Taiwan independence."