Taiwan president Tsai says US visits reinforce determination to defend itself

TAIPEI (REUTERS) – The recent visits by guests from the United States have reinforced Taiwan’s determination to defend itself, Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen said on Friday (Aug 26) as she met the latest US lawmaker to visit the island in defiance of Beijing.

China, which claims Taiwan as its own territory against the strong objections of the democratically elected government in Taipei, launched military drills near the island after US

House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited in early August.

Around a week later she was followed by five other law makers and late on Thursday Senator Marsha Blackburn touched down in Taipei.

Meeting at the presidential office, Ms Tsai praised the trips of the lawmakers.

“In recent times, many public figures from a broad spectrum of US society have visited Taiwan. These warm acts of kindness and firm demonstrations of support have reinforced Taiwan’s determination to defend itself,” she said, in remarks carried live on Ms Tsai’s social media pages.

The United States, like most countries, has no formal diplomatic relations with Taiwan, but is bound by law to provide it with the means to defend itself.

Ms Blackburn, a Republican from Tennessee who sits on the Senate Commerce and Armed Services committees, told Ms Tsai that the United States and Taiwan had the shared values of freedom and democracy.

“It is important indeed that freedom-loving nations support Taiwan as they seek to preserve their independence and their freedom,” she said.

Ms Tsai said fellow democracies must work together to ensure more secure and resilient supply chains, and that she was “delighted” to see Taiwanese semiconductor companies investing in the United States.

“We also look forward to working with the United States to strengthen cooperation on semiconductors and other high-tech sectors and jointly respond to the economic challenges of the post-pandemic era.”

Taiwan is a major producer of chips, tight supplies of which have hit supply chains globally.

Ms Tsai said Taiwan would like to be “further integrated” into the Biden administration’s new Indo-Pacific Economic Framework, which the island has so far been excluded from, and other regional economic cooperation architecture.