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US Republican members of Congress meet Taiwan president

Rep John Curtis first arrived in Taiwan in 1979 for missionary work

President Tsai Ing-wen (front right) meets with a four-member delegation from the U.S. Congress. 

President Tsai Ing-wen (front right) meets with a four-member delegation from the U.S. Congress.  (CNA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Four Republican members of the United States Congress met President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) Tuesday (Dec. 20), telling her the U.S. values Taiwan’s prosperity.

The delegation included John Curtis and former professional football player Burgess Owens from Utah, Mariannette Miller-Meeks from Iowa, and South Korean-born Michelle Steel of California.

Curtis recalled how Taiwan was not yet a democracy when he first arrived in 1979 for a two-year stint as a missionary, the Liberty Times reported. The U.S. broke off diplomatic relations during that period to recognize China, but he nevertheless felt welcome in Taiwan, the congressional representative said. During his two years of missionary work, he lived in Taichung and Miaoli, and later with his wife and two children in Taipei City’s Neihu District, Curtis said.

He jokingly told how, at the time, Taiwan was the world’s top producer of Christmas lights, while now it supplies the world’s high-tech sector with semiconductors, and traveling from Taipei to Taichung is now possible by high-speed train.

Curtis said that his trip is sending a message to Taiwan that its prosperity is important to both U.S. political parties and to both houses of Congress, and that his delegation is interested in knowing what role the U.S. can play to most benefit Taiwan.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) said that, including the current delegation, 36 members of Congress had already visited Taiwan in 2022. Apart from the Ministry of Economic Affairs and the Mainland Affairs Council, the government departments the group will visit also include the Environmental Protection Administration and the Council of Agriculture, as Curtis founded the Congressional Climate Caucus, MOFA noted.