A bipartisan group of Congress members touring portions of East Asia spent part of Thanksgiving serving lunch to U.S. troops stationed in South Korea before jetting off to Taiwan – despite protests from the Chinese Embassy.
Republican Rep. Nancy Mace of South Carolina was among the lawmakers serving vegetables, potatoes and turkey to some of the 28,000 American troops stationed in the country.
‘Enjoyed serving our troops today,’ Mace tweeted. ‘Many of our soldiers haven’t been able to visit home or have their families visit them since the start of COVID. Incredibly important to give our men and women in uniform a heartfelt thanks.’
Democratic Rep. Mark Takano of California, chairman of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, was among the politicians who helped scoop food onto soldiers’ plates and tossed a football with them.
President Joe Biden also paid tribute to overseas troops on Thanksgiving while remaining in Nantucket for the holiday.
Republican Rep. Nancy Mace (right) joined four Democrats in a tour of three east Asian countries, including South Korea, where she helped serve food to US troops on Thanksgiving
Rep. Colin Allred is seen tossing a football with an American troop during the South Korea visit
Rep. Sara Jacobs dished out food to soldiers before the delegation headed to Taiwan
A group of Congress members, including Democratic Rep. Mark Takano of California, Republican Rep. Nancy Mace of South Carolina, and Democratic Rep. Sara Jacobs of California expressed gratitude to American troops on Twitter and showed their appreciation in person by serving US soldiers stationed in South Korea
‘We are thankful for their service and for the opportunity to show them our utmost appreciation for all they do each and every day,’ Takano tweeted.
Democratic Rep. Sara Jacobs of California said she was honored to help nourish the soldiers.
‘We ask so much of military families, especially during Covid,’ she tweeted. ‘With so many unable to travel home to see family, I felt it was important to visit and I’m thankful for the opportunity to show them our gratitude.’
Earlier in the week, the delegation – which also includes Democratic representatives Colin Allred of Texas and Elissa Slotkin of Michigan – met with 1st Special Forces and South Korean officials to discuss maintaining stability in the region.
The trip included a visit to the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ), which has served as a buffer between North and South Korea since the Korean War and was famously visited by then-President Donald Trump, who crossed the border into North Korea to meet Kim Jong Un.
It was preceded by a trip to Okinawa, Japan, where lawmakers met with military commanders to learn more about veterans and overseas healthcare.
The delegation traveled to Taiwan on Thursday afternoon, despite receiving a warning from China, Slotkin said.
‘After stops in Japan and Korea, it’ll be good to connect with leaders here to discuss a whole host of economic and national security issues,’ the congresswoman tweeted.
‘When news of our trip broke yesterday, my office received a blunt message from the Chinese Embassy, telling me to call off the trip.’
She didn’t elaborate on what motivated the Chinese Embassy to make the request, although tensions are rising as the communist country is poised for a full-scale invasion of Taiwan.
A congressional report released earlier this month revealed the Chinese military is reaching the capability to take over the island.
‘The PLA [People’s Liberation Army] has already achieved the capabilities needed to conduct an air and naval blockade, cyberattacks, and missile strikes against Taiwan,’ according to a report from the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission, a congressionally-appointed agency designated to provide national security and economic advice to Congress and the president.
‘PLA leaders now likely assess they have, or will soon have, the initial capability needed to conduct a high-risk invasion of Taiwan if ordered to do so by CCP leaders. They will continue enhancing this capability in the coming years.’
Soldiers carrying machine guns and grenades take part in a military exercise simulating an invasion from China
A US-made fighter jet releases flames during a drill in Taiwan
China considers Taiwan to be nothing more than an unruly extension of mainland territory.
The U.S. recognized the island democracy’s autonomy until 1979, but the two nation’s still enjoy a ‘robust unofficial relationship.’
The White House has sent out confusing messages on its policy toward Taiwan, with President Biden first saying the US ‘absolutely’ had a duty to defend the island if it were attacked.
Hours later, the president’s press shop put out a statement saying there was no policy change, the US was still following the Taiwan Relations Act’s policy of strategic ambiguity.
Biden previously told a crowd he had made little progress to stop China’s encroachment on Taiwan, but ruffled feathers in Beijing when he used the word ‘independence.’
The president and First Lady Jill Biden also paid tribute to troops on Thanksgiving.
The couple visited the U.S. Coast Guard Station Brant Point in Nantucket where they had virtual calls with troops around the world, and met with U.S. Coast Guard personnel on the ground.
They also released a heartfelt video on Twitter, where they thanked troops for their service and commiserated with families who have lost loved ones to COVID.
President Biden greets members of the coast guard at the US Coast Guard Station Brant Point in Nantucket on Thursday