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US Republican presidential candidate heads to Taiwan, Japan | Political News

The visits come amid rising tensions over self-ruled Taiwan, which Beijing claims as its own territory.

The Republican governor of the U.S. state of Virginia met with Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen, as Republican hopefuls for the 2024 U.S. presidential race seek to boost their campaigns with an international tour.

Glenn Youngkin, a former hedge fund manager who unexpectedly won the Virginia gubernatorial race, met with Tsai Ing-wen in Taipei on Tuesday as part of a trade mission, their office said.

In announcing the establishment of the Taiwan-Virginia Economic Development Office, Youngkin said Taiwan is “a vital partner and a model of prosperity for nations around the world.”

Tsai said she was happy to host friends from the United States, adding that Taipei has always had close ties to Virginia.

She said: “Governor Youngkin chose Taiwan as the destination for his first overseas visit after taking office, which is of great significance.”

The governor, a rising Republican star considered a likely contender for the 2024 nomination — though he has yet to declare a candidacy — will also visit South Korea and Japan.

Florida Gov. 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 early Republican front-runner was former President Donald Trump, who announced his candidacy last November.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis meets with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida. They smiled and shook hands.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis stops in Japan as part of a four-nation tour that will also include South Korea, Israel and the United Kingdom [Kimimasa Mayama/Pool via Reuters]

DeSantis hailed Japan as a “great ally” of the United States and welcomed a five-year, $315 billion military expansion that Japan launched last year as China grew stronger and North Korea ramped up its missile launches.

“We really appreciate your efforts to strengthen your defenses. We know it’s a tough community here … We really believe that a strong Japan is good for America, and a strong America is good for Japan,” said DeSantis, who also It will travel to South Korea, Israel and the United Kingdom.

The visits come amid heightened tensions in the region over democratic Taiwan, which Beijing claims as its own and has refused to rule out the use of force to achieve its goals.

China held days of military drills after fellow Republican U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Kevin McCarthy met with Tsai Ing-wen in California earlier this month.

Beijing claims Tsai is a “separatist” who wants independence.

She said it was up to the people of Taiwan to decide their future.

The United States has formal relations with Beijing but is Taiwan’s most important international backer.

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