Taiwan’s security as a tech hub is a global concern, says visiting US senator

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TAIPEI – Technology hub Taiwan is a “country of global importance” and its security has implications for the world, U.S. Senator Bob Menendez said Friday during a meeting with President Tsai Ing-wen.

Menendez, chairman of the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee, was among a bipartisan group of six US lawmakers visiting Taipei to show support for the democratic island in the face of Chinese pressure.

The United States has no formal relations with China’s claimed Taiwan, but is its largest international backer and arms supplier.

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“With Taiwan producing 90% of the world’s high-end semiconductor products, it is a country of global importance, consequence and impact, and it should therefore be understood that Taiwan’s security has global impact,” Menendez told Tsai during a meeting at the presidential office streamed live online.

The visit, and its use of the word “country” to refer to Taiwan, is likely to infuriate China, which rejects any suggestion that Taiwan is a country. China considers the island as one of its provinces.

Menendez acknowledged that the Chinese government was “very unhappy” with the delegation’s visit, but that would not deter the group from supporting Taiwan.

Taiwan has been encouraged by US support offered by the Biden administration, which has repeatedly spoken of its “rock-solid” commitment to the democratically-ruled island.

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This has added to tensions in Sino-US relations.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has also put Taipei on high alert for any potential move by Beijing to use the Ukraine crisis to intervene on the island. The government reported no unusual Chinese activity.

Republican U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham told Tsai at the delegation’s meeting that the war in Ukraine and China’s provocative behavior had united American opinion in a way never seen before.

“We will be by your side. To give up Taiwan would be to give up democracy and freedom,” he said.

The delegation, which arrived Thursday evening from Australia for an unannounced two-day trip, will also meet Taiwanese Foreign Minister Joseph Wu and Defense Minister Chiu Kuo-cheng. (Reporting by Ben Blanchard and Yimou Lee; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman, Robert Birsel and Edmund Klamann)

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Teresa H. Sadler