KEY POINTS

  • The delegation is expected to meet President Tsai Ing-wen on Wednesday
  • Former U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is also expected to arrive soon
  • China also flayed the U.S. warship's transit through the Taiwan Strait

A U.S. defense delegation, appointed by President Joe Biden, has landed in Taipei, amid speculations that China might launch an attack on Taiwan, akin to the Russian attack on Ukraine.

The delegation, led by the one-time chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mike Mullen, landed in Taipei on Tuesday, and was welcomed by Taiwanese Foreign Minister Joseph Wu, reported Reuters.

Mullen is a retired Navy admiral who served as the top U.S. military officer under former presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama. Besides him, Meghan O'Sullivan, a former deputy national security adviser under Bush, and Michele Flournoy, a former undersecretary of defense under Obama, are also part of the team. Two former National Security Council senior directors for Asia, Mike Green and Evan Medeiros, are also on the trip. 

According to reports, the visit is aimed at "demonstrating our continued robust support for Taiwan," a U.S. official told Reuters.

The delegation is expected to meet President Tsai Ing-wen on Wednesday. Meanwhile, former U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is also expected to arrive Wednesday, though he is coming separately and as a private citizen. 

The report added that their flight, from Washington via Anchorage, made an unusual arrival, flying down Japan's Ryukyu Islands before turning to approach Taipei instead of taking the usual East China Sea route. According to the flight-tracking website FlightRadar24, this is well away from China.

The visit has angered China. According to Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin, the moves by the U.S. are bound to fail.

"The will of the Chinese people to defend our country's sovereignty and territorial integrity is immovable. Whoever the U.S. sends to show support for Taiwan is bound to fail," Wang was quoted by media outlets.

"China urges the US to abide by the one-China principle," he added.

Wang also expressed his anger at the U.S. warship's transit through the sensitive Taiwan Strait. "I wonder what is the U.S. intention behind this high part of this passage of USS Johnson. If it intends to embolden Taiwan's independent separatist forces, then it will only accelerate the fall of Taiwan independence forces and the U.S. will pay a heavy price for its adventurous acts," Mr. Wang said.

"If the U.S. intends to intimidate China by this, then, in front of the 1.4 billion Chinese people united in their steely determination, the so-called military deterrence will be nothing but scrap metal," he added.

Michael Mullen, the former US chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, greeted Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen during a visit to Taipei Michael Mullen, the former US chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, greeted Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen during a visit to Taipei Photo: Presidential Office via AFP / Handout