A US state governor met Taiwan’s president Monday, days after Washington announced trade talks with Taipei in a show of support following China’s military threats towards the self-ruled island.
Eric Holcomb, the Republican governor of Indiana, landed in Taiwan on Sunday for an “economic development trip”.
US-China tensions have risen since Beijing staged huge military drills in retaliation for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan earlier this month.
Taiwan lives under constant threat of an invasion by China, which claims the democratic island as part of its territory to be seized one day — by force if necessary.
Beijing lashes out at any diplomatic action that might lend Taiwan legitimacy and has responded with growing anger to visits by Western officials and politicians.
In her meeting with Holcomb on Monday, President Tsai Ing-wen directly referenced Beijing’s drills and called for like-minded countries to continue supporting Taiwan.
“Presently we are facing the continued expansion of global authoritarianism,” she told Holcomb.
“Taiwan has been confronted by military threats from China in and around the Taiwan Strait. At this moment democratic allies must stand together and boost cooperation across all areas,” she said.
Holcomb said the United States and Taiwan “share so many common values and interests and goals”.
“We will continue to seek to build a strategic partnership with you,” he said.
In a statement late Monday, China’s foreign ministry urged the US “to abide by the one-China principle and… stop all forms of official exchanges with Taiwan”.
“The Chinese side has always firmly opposed the US official exchanges with Taiwan in any form and under any name, and has lodged solemn representations with the US side over Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb’s visit to Taiwan,” the statement said.
Holcomb is also expected to meet representatives of Taiwan’s world-leading semiconductor industry before leaving on Wednesday for South Korea.
Alongside South Korea, Taiwan makes some of the world’s smallest and most advanced computer chips — a commodity that is vital for electronics but in short supply worldwide.
The United States is keen to encourage Taiwanese companies to build chip foundries on American soil to diversify supply chains, something Tsai also referenced on Monday.
“Taiwan is willing and able to strengthen cooperation with democratic partners in building sustainable supply chain for democracy chips,” she said.
Holcomb’s visit comes on the heels of the announcement of trade talks between Washington and Taipei in the coming months as a senior US diplomat warned Beijing would continue to put pressure on Taiwan.
China has lashed out at the plans for business talks with Washington — though it also has multiple trade deals of its own with Taiwan, signed during years when their relations were warmer.