Friday, October 27, 2023

US GOP Candidates Visit Taiwan and Japan


The tension over self-ruled Taiwan, which Beijing claims as its own territory, has escalated as Republican hopefuls for the United States 2024 presidential race seek to lift their campaigns with international tours. Glenn Youngkin, the Republican governor of the US state of Virginia, met Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen in Taipei on Tuesday as part of a trade mission. Taiwan is an important partner and model of prosperity for nations across the globe, said Youngkin as he announced the establishment of a Taiwan-Virginia economic development office. Tsai said she was happy to receive friends from the US, adding that Taipei has always enjoyed strong links with the state of Virginia.

Governor Youngkin, a rising Republican star and considered a possible contender for the 2024 nomination, is also due to visit South Korea and Japan. Florida governor and potential rival Ron DeSantis, who is also on an international tour, is already in Tokyo and met Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida on Monday. The Republican Party’s early frontrunner is former President Donald Trump, who declared his candidacy last November.

DeSantis praised Japan as a great ally to the US and welcomed a five-year, $315bn military expansion Japan launched last year in the face of an increasingly powerful China and as North Korea steps up its missile launches. He said that a strong Japan is good for America, and a strong America is good for Japan. DeSantis will also travel to South Korea, Israel and the United Kingdom.

The visits come amid heightened tension in the region over democratic Taiwan, which Beijing claims as its own and refusing to rule out the use of force to achieve its objectives. China staged days of war games after US House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, also a Republican, met Tsai in California earlier this month. Beijing claims Tsai is a separatist who wants independence while she says it is up to the people of Taiwan to determine their future. The US has formal relations with Beijing but is Taiwan’s most important international supporter.

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