TAIPEI (Reuters) -Technology hub Taiwan is a “country of global significance” and its security has implications for the world, U.S. Senator Bob Menendez said on Friday in a meeting with President Tsai Ing-wen.
The comment during a visit to Taipei by a bipartisan group of six U.S. lawmakers, including chairman of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee Menendez, in a show of support to 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 delegation from supporting Taiwan.
Taiwan has been heartened by the U.S. 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-U.S. relations.
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 defence minister Chiu Kuo-cheng.
Menendez, a Democrat, is a staunch supporter of Taiwan. In February he co-proposed a bill that would require the United States to negotiate the renaming of Taiwan’s de facto embassy in Washington as the “Taiwan Representative Office”.
(Reporting By Ben Blanchard and Yimou Lee; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman, Robert Birsel)