The governor of the US state of Arizona has begun a trip to Taiwan focused on securing critical chips that are at the centre of the heated tech rivalry between the United States and China.
Arizona Governor Doug Ducey is expected to meet Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen as well as business leaders and university representatives in the semiconductor industry during his three-day visit to the self-governing island.
Ducey, who arrived in Taiwan on Tuesday, is the latest US politician to visit the self-ruled island, after recent trips by US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb and several US senators.
The visits have drawn an angry response from Beijing, which considers Taiwan a province that must be “reunified” with the Chinese mainland by force if necessary.
During his visit to Taiwan, Ducey is seeking to attract suppliers for a new $12bn semiconductor plant being built in Arizona by Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Corp (TSMC), the world’s largest supplier of the critical chips used in practically all electronic devices.
The governor will then travel to South Korea, where he is expected to meet South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol and business leaders later in the week.
“Arizona has excellent relationships with Taiwan and the Republic of Korea,” Ducey said before beginning the trip.
“The goal of this trade mission is to take these relationships to the next level — to strengthen them, expand them and ensure they remain mutually beneficial.”
Taiwan produces more than half the global supply of high-end processor chips, and Washington is concerned that the US is overly dependent on the island and other Asian suppliers.
Concerns about the global supply of semiconductors have been heightened by shortages during the COVID-19 pandemic and China’s aggressive moves towards Taiwan. Beijing carried out unprecedented military exercises near the island in response to Pelosi’s visit, disrupting shipping and air traffic and highlighting the potential vulnerability of the global supply chain for semiconductors.
In July, the US Congress passed legislation pledging $52bn in grants and other aid to develop the domestic semiconductor industry and a 25 percent tax credit for investors in US-based chip factories.
Washington has also ramped up its support for Taiwan, although it does not recognise the island as an independent country.
US President Joe Biden is planning to ask Congress to approve the sale of $1.1bn in arms to the island, including 60 anti-ship missiles and 100 air-to-air missiles, the media outlet Politico reported on Wednesday.