Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb and other state officials arrived in Taiwan on Sunday, marking the third US delegation to visit the island this month amid soaring tensions between the US and China.
Holcomb, a Republican, said that the trip was meant to boost economic cooperation between the US and Taiwan with a focus on the semiconductor industry. The visit came after the US announced it will begin formal trade talks with Taiwan this fall.
Taiwan is the world’s leading producer of semiconductors, and the frequent high-level US visits to the island came after President Biden signed the CHIPS and Science Act into law, which includes about $52 billion in subsidies for domestic chip manufacturing.
On Monday, Holcomb met with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen, who said the US and Taiwan should work together on semiconductors, which she called “democracy chips.”
“Economic security is an important pillar of national and regional security,” Tsai told Holcomb. “Taiwan is willing and able to strengthen cooperation with democratic partners in building sustainable supply chains for democracy chips.”
China denounced Holcomb’s visit to Taiwan and said it lodged “stern representations” with the US over the trip. “China always firmly opposes the US conducting official exchanges with Taiwan in any form or under any guise,” the Chinese Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) visited Taiwan at the beginning of the month, sparking the largest-ever Chinese military drills around the island. Her visit was followed by a delegation led by Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA).
Since Pelosi’s visit, the Chinese military has been sending warplanes over the median line that separates the Taiwan Strait, a barrier Beijing previously avoided. Tensions could escalate further in the region as the US military is planning to send planes and aircraft through the Taiwan Strait.
China views contact between US officials and Taiwanese officials as Washington moving further away from the one-China policy, and Beijing has made clear that US support for the island’s “independence forces” is a red line and could lead to war in the region. But US officials continue to ignore the warnings, and the high-level delegations will likely continue.