Nancy Mace Details Chinese Pushback to U.S. Lawmakers Visiting Taiwan

South Carolina Republican lawmaker Nancy Mace, who marked her recent trip to Taiwan with a viral tweet, has detailed failed Chinese government efforts to make her and her colleagues cancel their recent visit.

Mace was the only GOP legislator present in the five-person bipartisan congressional delegation that landed in Taipei late last Thursday. Others included Representatives Mark Takano (D-CA), Elissa Slotkin (D-MI), Sara Jacobs (D-CA) and Colin Allred (D-TX).

Their two-day visit involved meetings with Taiwan's top leadership, including President Tsai Ing-wen, her aides and Taiwanese Foreign Minister Joseph Wu. The American lawmakers were also introduced to the island's increasingly critical semiconductor industry—responsible for producing microchips in everything from cars to smartphones.

But Mace told Fox News show Sunday Morning Futures that diplomatic pressure from Beijing began before they had even arrived in Taiwan, the democratic, self-governing island claimed by China and backed for decades by the United States.

It was unclear how China caught wind of the visit, which was not officially announced by the Taiwanese government until after the delegation had landed. Taiwanese news outlets, however, were reporting whispers to that effect in the hours before they arrived.

"Before we even set foot on a plane to Taiwan, it was the Chinese Embassy pushing back very strongly against every member on that trip, demanding that we don't visit Taiwan," said Mace. The delegation led by Takano—chair of the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs—was on a Thanksgiving trip to meet American troops and veterans in Japan and South Korea at the time.

"I don't get permission from China—or Communist China—to do anything. So we ignored their demands and we went to Taiwan anyway," Mace said in segments of the Fox News interview posted to her social media accounts on Tuesday.

She added: "Taiwan really is and can be a beacon of hope for every country that respects and wants to protect freedom and democracy around the world." The Chinese military continued to conduct air force operations in the skies near Taiwan as the delegation was on the island.

Mace said the U.S. and others had largely overlooked Beijing's actions because of deep integration with the Chinese economy, its large manufacturing base in particular. "But why we continue to turn our cheek and allow them to be this aggressive to our friends and partners and allies is beyond me. And I come back stronger with that feeling today than ever before," the South Carolina Republican said.

Beijing opposes all interactions between American elected officials and their Taiwanese counterparts. Washington says congressional visits are in line with the U.S.'s "one China" policy, under which formal diplomatic relations are maintained with China while robust, unofficial ties continue with Taiwan.

The U.S. acknowledges but doesn't recognize Chinese claims to Taiwan. The official U.S. position, maintained for decades, is that the island's status remains undetermined. The U.S. takes no position on sovereignty over Taiwan, but it expects differences across the Taiwan Strait to be resolved by peaceful means, in keeping with the interests and wishes of the people on Taiwan.

When Mace landed at Taipei Songshan Airport last week, she published a viral tweet in which she described the island as the "Republic of Taiwan," a play on its official name, the Republic of China, and a hint at the unique Taiwanese identity growing especially among the country's youth.

Any attempt to change the nation's official designation would involve expending endless political capital on difficult constitutional changes. Under the current climate, it's also the most likely action to trigger a war with China. Taiwanese President Tsai was elected and reelected on a mandate to preserve the so-called "status quo."

Mace told CNN on Monday that her tweet was a "subtle but strong nod to the Taiwanese people, and some of their concerns about the aggression by China." The lawmaker said the Twitter post was "100 percent" intentional.

Nancy Mace Details Chinese Pressure Over Taiwan
Republican lawmaker Nancy Mace, then a congressional candidate, speaks to the crowd at an event with Sen. Lindsey Graham at the Charleston County Victory Office during Graham's campaign bus tour on October 31, 2020, in Charleston, South Carolina. Mace marked her recent trip to Taiwan with a viral tweet. Michael Ciaglo/Getty Images