A US official said Friday, the US wants to deepen its relationship with Taiwan, the self-ruled island that has become a major point of conflict in the strained US-China relationship, and will work to counter Beijing’s “malign” influence.

The US support for Taiwan comes as tensions between China and the island are now at the highest in decades, with Beijing stepping up its military harassment by flying fighter jets toward Taiwan. China has not ruled out force to reunify with Taiwan, which split from the mainland during the civil war in 1949.

In her first public news conference, Sandra Oudkirk,  the new director of the American Institute in Taiwan, the de facto embassy, reiterated official lines that the US remains deeply committed to Taiwan and is actively working on new areas of cooperation such as in cybersecurity and supply chains.

The US switched diplomatic recognition of China from the ruling Nationalist Party government in Taipei to the Communist Party in Beijing in 1979, but has continued to maintain a strong unofficial relationship with the self-ruled island.

Oudkirk declined to comment on any security initiatives or give any details about the presence of US troops on the island, after Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen confirmed Thursday that US boots were indeed on the ground, though less than what people would think.

Taiwan is home to TSMC or Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Inc., which is the biggest contract manufacturer of processor chips in the world. Those chips are used in everything from smartphones, medical equipment, to gaming computers.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Tuesday called on other members of the United Nations to supporting Taipei’s independent participation in international organizations related to transportation, health, climate change, culture and education. Taiwan, for example, is not a member of the World Health Organization.

In recent weeks, local media reported that Taiwanese companies are concerned about a request for information from the US Department of Commerce to chipmakers on potentially sensitive information such as their inventory, production and their top customers. TSMC, for example, serves clients in China as well as across the world.


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