US governor visits Taiwan as Tsai highlights ‘democratic allies’

Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb’s trip to the island is the third such visit by a US politician in less than a month.

The governor of the US state of Indiana has met Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen after a series of high-profile visits by American politicians that have enraged China.

Eric Holcomb met Tsai on Monday after arriving on the self-ruled island for a four-day visit that the Republican governor says is aimed at bolstering economic exchanges, particularly in the key semiconductor industry.

During a meeting at her office in Taipei, Tsai said the United States and Taiwan must stand together as “democratic allies” after the island had been confronted by “military threats” from China.

“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.”

“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,” Tsai said.

Holcomb’s trip comes after visits earlier this month by US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and a delegation of US legislators led by Massachusetts Senator Ed Markey drew angry protests from Beijing, which considers Taiwan its territory.

China has held unprecedented military exercises near the island since early August, saying it will “resolutely defend national sovereignty”.

Beijing considers Taiwan a province that must be “reunified” with the mainland by force if necessary, and has accused the US of trying to overturn decades of diplomatic policy concerning the island’s status.

The Biden administration has said it does not support Taiwan’s independence, but opposes any attempt to change the status quo by force.

Holcomb, who is travelling with officials from the state’s economic development council, is set to meet representatives of Taiwan’s semiconductor industry and several top universities before travelling to South Korea later this week.

“We both seek to deepen and enhance our already excellent cooperation that we’ve established over the years,” Holcomb said.

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