Sullivan

Sens. Dan Sullivan, Christopher Coons and Tammy Duckworth meet with Taiwan leaders during a bipartisan diplomatic trip to the Indo-Pacific region. Photo provided by Sen. Sullivan's office

Republican Sen. Dan Sullivan met with Taiwan’s president Sunday, along with two Democratic senators on the Armed Services and Foreign Relations committees, as part of a diplomatic visit to the Indo-Pacfic region.

Sens. Sullivan, Tammy Duckworth of Illinois and Chris Coons of Delaware met with top leaders in Taipei to emphasize U.S. commitment to its allies in the region, according to Sullivan’s office.

Sullivan described the U.S.-Taiwan meeting as part of a “continued commitment to our friends and partners in this critical area of the world.”

The three senators also made a diplomatic stop in South Korea before arriving in Taiwan.

Sullivan and Duckworth, both military veterans, are members of the Armed Services Committee. Coons is on the Foreign Relations Committee.

In Taiwan, the three met with President Tsai Ing-wen, Foreign Minister Joseph Wu and Defense Minister Chiu Kuo-cheng to discuss regional security, shared economic interests and the Covid  pandemic, according to the American Institute in Taiwan.

The delegation pledged to donate 750,000 Covid-19 vaccines to Taiwan, as part of President Joe Biden’s plan to share vaccines with American allies in need, according to a statement from Sullivan’s office.

Stars and Stripes reported Sunday that the U.S. meeting with Taiwan’s top political leaders likely will anger China, which claims Taiwan as its territory and not an independent nation.

China’s ruling Communist Party has been flying warplanes near Taiwan and recently increased statements that Taiwan, a democracy, needs to come under its control. 

Taiwanese officials allege that Beijing is blocking imports of Covid-19 vaccines, since the island began experiencing a surge in cases in April.

Sullivan said in a prepared statement that the U.S. is committed to bringing “healing and relief” with effective vaccines to allies and partners around the world.

He criticized the Chinese Communisty Party for “a lack of transparency and lack of international cooperation,” in issues relating to the pandemic and its origins “emanating from China.” 

Sullivan, along with Duckworth and Coons, said the vaccine donation shows America’s appreciation to Taiwan, which gave masks and other health supplies to the U.S. in the early days of the pandemic.

The three flew into Taiwan aboard a U.S. Air Force military aircraft, which was reported by the Taiwanese press.

Lin Ying-yu, a professor at National Chung Cheng University, said the aircraft showcased American military defense and willingness to assist Taiwan at a time of need, according to media reports.

Sullivan recalled his own experience as a U.S. Marine deployed to the Taiwan Strait more than two decades ago. 

He described it as “a very challenging and critical time for Taiwan’s democracy.”

“America’s presence then was in response to Chinese provocations on the eve of the presidential election in Taiwan, and it demonstrated American commitment and resolve,” Sullivan said in a statement Sunday.

“Today’s bipartisan Senate delegation visit to Taiwan is yet another demonstration of that continued commitment to our friends and partners in this critical area of the world, as well as a reminder of how the United States’ presence over the past several decades has been instrumental in the development of security, prosperity and democracy throughout the Indo-Pacific region.”

Contact political reporter Linda F. Hersey at 459-7575 or follow her at twitter.com/FDNMpolitics.