By Sarah Wu, Yimou Lee and David Shepardson
TAIPEI/WASHINGTON (Reuters) -U.S. Federal Communications Commissioner Brendan Carr is in Taiwan this week for meetings on 5G, cybersecurity and telecoms, his office and the de facto U.S. embassy in Taiwan said on Wednesday.
Carr is the latest senior official from the United States to visit the island and the first FCC commissioner to visit, his office said.
Carr is holding bilateral meetings at the invitation of Taiwan’s National Communications Commission for a series
of meetings with government agencies.
Carr will also convene meetings with the tech and telecom sectors and hold meetings in Hsinchu home to Taiwan’s semiconductor industry.
“A free and democratic Taiwan is vital to America’s prosperity, and our deep partnership is built on a bedrock of shared values and a commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific,” Carr said in a statement, adding “in the technology sector alone, Taiwan’s contributions are irreplaceable.”
Carr is a strong critic of China and one of two Republicans on the FCC, which currently has four commissioners and is chaired by a Democratic commissioner tapped by President Joe Biden. Earlier this week Carr told Axios he thinks the U.S. government should ban Chinese-owned short video app TikTok.
Taiwan’s foreign ministry declined to comment.
China, which claims the island as its own despite strong objections by Taiwan’s government, has in the past reacted with anger to such official exchanges between Taipei and Washington.
China has stepped up military activities near democratically governed Taiwan since August when it conducted blockade drills around the island following a visit to Taipei by U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
The Biden administration has sought to keep tensions between Washington and Beijing, inflamed by the visits, from boiling over into a conflict, reiterating that such trips are routine.
The United States has no formal diplomatic relations with Taiwan but is bound by law to provide the island with the means to defend itself.
China has never ruled out using force to bring Taiwan under its control. Taiwan’s government says the People’s Republic of China has never ruled the island and so its sovereignty claims are void.
(Reporting By Sarah Wu and Yimou Lee and David Shepardson in Washington; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman, Michael Perry and Nick Zieminski)