TAIPEI – Indiana's Republican governor met with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen on Monday, following two recent high-profile visits by U.S. politicians that drew Beijing'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 exchanges, particularly in semiconductors, according to a statement from his office.
His visit comes at a particularly tense time for Taiwan, China and the U.S. after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited earlier this month. China claims the self-ruled island as its own territory and views any exchanges with foreign governments as an infringement on its claim.
Tsai acknowledged the tensions in her opening remarks ahead of the meeting and welcomed further exchanges.
“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," she said.
Separately, Japanese lawmakers Keiji Furuya and Minoru Kihara arrived in Taiwan on Monday and are to meet Tsai on Tuesday. Furuya said they also plan to visit the tomb of late Taiwanese leader Lee Teng-hui.
“China’s military provocations and other actions defying what’s acceptable have caused risks to the peace and safety of not only Taiwan but also to all of East Asia,” Furuya tweeted Monday.
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 China.
China also imposed visa bans and other sanctions on several Taiwanese political figures, though it’s unclear what effect the sanctions will have.
Holcomb emphasized the economic nature of his visit, noting that his state is among the top in the U.S. for direct foreign investment and 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 was also meeting representatives of the semiconductor industry and was expected to promote academic and tech cooperation between Taiwan and Indiana. His 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, which has just established a semiconductor degree program. He visits South Korea next.