© Reuters. Bob Menendez, chairman of the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and other members of the US delegation arrive at Taipei Songshan airport in Taipei, Taiwan April 14, 2022. Taiwan Ministry of Foreign Affairs / Handout via REUTERS
TAIPEI (Reuters) -Technology hub Taiwan is a “country of global significance” and its security has implications for the world, US Senator Bob Menendez said on Friday in a meeting with President Tsai Ing-wen.
Menendez, chairman of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee, was part of a bipartisan group of six U.S. lawmakers visiting Taipei in a show of support for the democratic island in the face of Chinese pressure.
The United States has no formal relations with Chinese-claimed Taiwan but is its most important international backer and arms supplier.
“With Taiwan producing 90% of the world’s high-end semiconductor products, it is a country of global significance, consequence and impact, and therefore it should be understood the security of Taiwan has a global impact,” Menendez told Tsai in a meeting in the presidential office broadcast live online.
The visit, and his use of the word “country” to refer to Taiwan, is likely to infuriate China, which dismisses any suggestion Taiwan is a country. China regards 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 dissuade the group from supporting Taiwan.
Taiwan has been heartened by US support offered by the Biden administration, which has repeatedly talked of its “rock-solid” commitment to the democratically governed island.
That has added to strains in Sino-US relations.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has also put Taipei on alert for any possible moves by Beijing to use the Ukraine crisis to make a move on the island. The government has reported no unusual Chinese activity.
Republican US Senator Lindsey Graham (NYSE 🙂 told Tsai during the delegation’s meeting that the war in Ukraine and provocative behavior by China have united US opinion in a way not seen before.
“We will stand with you. To abandon Taiwan will be to abandon democracy and freedom,” he said.
The delegation, which arrived late on Thursday from Australia for an unannounced two-day trip, will also meet Taiwan’s foreign minister, Joseph Wu, and Defense Minister Chiu Kuo-cheng.