RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) – Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R) will be joined by two of his Cabinet members when he visits Taiwan, Japan and South Korea next week.
Since it is Gov. Youngkin’s first overseas trade mission, he will be accompanied by Virginia’s Secretary of Finance Stephen Cummings and Secretary of Commerce and Trade Caren Merrick, a Virginia Economic Development Partnership (VEDP) spokesperson confirmed Thursday.
They are set to make stops in Taipei City, Taiwan, Tokyo, Japan, and Seoul, South Korea, from April 24 through April 29, governor’s office said the trip will focus on economic development opportunities, national security and “our shared priorities.”
Youngkin will also meet with the President of Taiwan Tsai Ing-wen, a move that could potentially increase tensions between the U.S. and China, which considers Taiwan a territory and views visits between U.S. and Taiwanese officials as challenges to its claim of sovereignty over the island.
Youngkin’s scheduled meeting with President Tsai Ing-wen comes after Tsai met with U.S. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) earlier this month, a visit China condemned. When former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited Taiwan last August, the Chinese government responded by sending warships and fighter jets near the island and conducting live-fire drills.
“Well, it’s always a concern because it’s a real tough region,” Youngkin told reporters in Richmond on April 11 when asked if he was worried about Chinese military activity in response to the planned visit. “I think one of the real benefits of my trip is to invite the Taiwanese government and businesses to invest in Virginia. There’s a great opportunity for us I believe.”
Youngkin has made a series of moves taking aim at China, including pulling Virginia from consideration for a new Ford Motor Co. electric vehicle battery plant that he claimed was a “front” for the Chinese Community Party.
The governor also banned TikTok on state devices and backed legislative efforts to keep China from buying state farmland.
The group heading to Asia for the trade mission also includes two VEDP representatives: Senior Vice President of Business Investment Vince Barnett and Business Manager Turner Widgen. They will meet with government officials, executives, global industry leaders and strategic business associations.
According to the governor’s office, Virginia has five Taiwanese-owned business establishments, 133 from Japan and 25 from South Korea.