A delegation including Indiana’s governor arrived in Taiwan on Sunday to begin trade talks with Taipei amid heightened US political tensions with China, which has launched a barrage of military exercises near the island in response to visits this month by US government officials .
The delegation, including Governor Eric Holcomb; Bradley Chambers, Indiana Secretary of Commerce; and others, will also visit South Korea later this week. Officials are set to meet with business and academic leaders in Taiwan and South Korea and will focus on “strengthening Indiana’s economic and academic partnerships” with both locations, Holcomb said in a news release.
“I am committed to building the economy of the future with these global partners who are helping to move Indiana forward by creating tomorrow’s businesses today,” the governor’s statement said.
Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said on Twitter: “We are excited to renew ties with good friends and deepen our partnership with the great American state of Indiana.”
The visit comes after the Biden administration announced last week that it would begin formal trade talks with Taiwan this fall. The move was aimed at strengthening ties with the self-governing island, which the United States considers an important market. But it has also heightened political tensions with China, which has long claimed sovereignty over Taiwan.
Sunday’s visit comes on the heels of a high-profile visit this month by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the most senior member of the US government to visit the island in 25 years; and another by a bipartisan group of five US lawmakers led by Sen. Ed Markey, DM. Taiwanese officials welcomed the visits as a show of solidarity amid sharp denunciations from Beijing.
On Sunday, Douglas Hsu, a senior official in Taiwan’s foreign ministry, met Holcomb after he landed in Taiwan. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement that it believed “the visit will help continue to improve and strengthen bilateral relations and deepen the mutually beneficial partnership between Taiwan and the United States.”
The ministry said Holcomb and his delegation will meet with President Tsai Ing-wen, the foreign minister and representatives of the island’s semiconductor industry during a four-day visit.
Beijing did not immediately respond on Sunday to the presence of the new US delegation. But China has escalated military exercises in waters near Taiwan in response to visits by Pelosi and other government officials this month, sending numerous warplanes and ships around the island.
On Sunday, Taiwan’s Defense Ministry said it had detected 12 planes and five vessels belonging to the People’s Liberation Army of China near its territory.
The Biden administration has said it will continue to conduct its own military operations in the region despite pressure from Beijing.
A State Department spokesman declined to comment on the Indiana governor’s trip, instead referring reporters to comments this month by Ned Price, the department’s press secretary, following visits by Pelosi, Markey and other members of Congress. Price called the delegations “peaceful visits by members of Congress who are traveling there to show their support for the people of Taiwan.”
He has routinely criticized China’s military maneuvers in response to such trips as “completely unnecessary and an absolute overreaction.”
Holcomb’s delegation includes staff from the Indiana Economic Development Corp. and representatives from Purdue University in Indiana, which announced in June that it would partner with MediaTek, a Taiwanese semiconductor company, to move some of the company’s operations to Indiana. The delegation will head to South Korea on Thursday.
This article originally appeared in New York Times.
US delegation visits Taiwan for trade talks, risking China’s ire