TAIPEI, Taiwan (AP) — Indiana's Republican governor met with Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen Monday morning, following two recent high-profile visits by U.S. politicians that drew China's ire and Chinese military drills that included firing missiles over the island.
Gov. Eric Holcomb arrived Sunday evening in Taiwan for a four-day visit that will focus on economic exchange, particularly semiconductors, according to a statement from his office.
His visit is coming at a tense moment for Taiwan, China and the U.S. after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited Taiwan earlier this month. China claims self-ruled Taiwan as its own territory and views exchanges with foreign governments as an infringement on its claims.
Tsai acknowledged the tensions in her opening remarks ahead of their meeting Monday morning and welcomed further exchanges.
“In the midst of this, 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 in all areas," Tsai said. “Building on our existing foundation of collaboration, I look forward to our supporting one another, and advancing hand in hand, forging closer relations and creating even deeper cooperation.”
In response to Pelosi's visit, China's military held several days of exercises that included warplanes flying toward the island and warships sailing across the midline of the Taiwan Strait, an unofficial buffer between the island and mainland.
China also imposed visa bans and other sanctions on several Taiwanese political figures, though it’s unclear what effect the sanctions would have.
Holcomb emphasized the economic nature of his visit, mentioning that the state is among the top in the U.S. for direct foreign investment and was home to 10 Taiwanese companies. “We both seek to deepen and enhance our already excellent cooperation that we've established over the years,” he said.
Holcomb will also meet representatives of the semiconductor industry, and is expected to promote academic and tech cooperation between Taiwan and the state of Indiana. The delegation is meeting with National Yang-Ming University and National Cheng Kung University as part of the exchange.
He is traveling with officials from the state's economic development council, as well as the dean of engineering at Purdue University, an institution which has just established a semiconductors degree program. He will visit South Korea next.