Australian MPs visit Taiwan this weekend
The delegation, which includes members of Australia's ruling Labor Party and the opposition Liberal-National alliance, will fly to Taiwan on Sunday, as per The Australian newspaper.
Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese revealed Saturday that a bipartisan group of Australian MPs will visit Taiwan, disregarding China's warnings just as their frigid relations appeared to be thawing.
When asked about the trip, Albanese attempted to downplay its significance.
"There have been backbench visits to Taiwan for a long time. This is another one. This isn't a government visit," he told journalists during a visit to rural South Australia.
Elsewhere in his remarks, the Australian leader claimed that all main political parties supported the One-China policy -- Taiwan is a part of the sovereign mainland.
It is worth noting that China sees Taiwan as an inalienable part of its sovereign territories, being very vocal about its opposition to any official contact between Taipei and other nations.
Asked about the aims of the Australian parliamentarians' trip, he said: "I have no idea. I'm not going. You should ask them."
According to The Weekend Australian, six MPs from the ruling center-left Labor Party and the conservative opposition Liberal Party will visit Taiwan for five days with the backing of Taipei.
Visit was kept secret to prevent pushback from China
The Australians were due to meet with President Tsai Ing-wen, Foreign Minister Joseph Wu, and other top officials to express their wish for peace in the Asia-Pacific area, as per the media outlet.
"Just because we are friends with Taiwan does not mean we can't be friends with China," Scott Buchholz, a conservative Queensland member of parliament who is in the delegation, told the paper.
The trip's plans had been kept secret in order to prevent China from pushing against it, according to the report.
When Chinese President Xi Jinping met Albanese in Bali, Indonesia, last month for the first formal summit between the two countries in five years, he urged for improved relations with Australia.
It was viewed as an opportunity to strengthen ties between the two countries, which are major trading partners.
Australia's willingness to legislate against offshore influence operations, to block Huawei from 5G contracts, and demand for an independent probe into the origins of the coronavirus pandemic has enraged China.
Unsurprisingly, this comes shortly after the United States prohibited the sale of communications equipment manufactured by Chinese companies Huawei and ZTE, as well as restricting the use of some video surveillance systems manufactured in China.
The situation around Taiwan escalated following US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's visit to Taipei. Pelosi's visit led China to announce ending cooperation with the United States on a number of issues such as climate change, anti-drug efforts, and military talks.