RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Republican Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin will lead his first international trade mission later this month, a trip to Asia that will include a meeting with the president of Taiwan, his office said Tuesday.
From April 24 through April 29, Youngkin and the Virginia delegation accompanying him will visit Taipei, Taiwan; Tokyo; and Seoul, South Korea. In addition to meeting President Tsai Ing-wen, Youngkin will meet government officials, strategic business associations, company executives and industry leaders, his office said.
“I’m excited to represent the Commonwealth in my first trade mission to Asia that will focus on economic development opportunities, our shared priorities and national security,” Youngkin said in a statement. “Taiwan, Japan, and South Korea represent critical markets that will advance economic growth and prosperity in Virginia. In strengthening these relationships, we are not only reaffirming our commitment to our allies but also strengthening the spirit of Virginia and America.”
The visit by Youngkin, who has not publicly ruled out a presidential bid, comes amid heightened tensions between the U.S. and China, which claims Taiwan as its own territory and treats dealings between American and Taiwanese officials as a challenge.
Youngkin's trade mission was announced one day ahead of an expected meeting between Tsai and U.S. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy in Los Angeles while Tsai returns home after a tour of Taiwan’s remaining diplomatic allies in Latin America.
Youngkin has recently taken an increasingly hard line against China. He disclosed in January that he scuttled an effort by Virginia to land a large electric vehicle battery plant, an initiative between Ford Motor Co. and a Chinese company that is setting up in Michigan instead. The governor’s administration labeled the project a “front” for the Chinese Communist Party that would raise national security concerns.
He also celebrated the passage of several bills during the recent legislative session that aimed to address the threat from China, including a measure that would prohibit foreign adversaries from purchasing or otherwise acquiring agricultural land.
That Youngkin waited so long into his term — which began in January 2022 — to embark on an international trade mission is somewhat unusual.
The Washington Post reported in December that he was the first governor in nearly 30 years not to lead such a trip in his first year in office. His press office said at the time that he would only undertake such trips if necessary and noted that Youngkin, a former private equity executive, had lured major new businesses to the state, including Boeing and Lego.
Virginia is home to scores of companies from the countries Youngkin will visit: five from Taiwan, 133 from Japan, and 25 from South Korea, according to his office.
The trip will be Youngkin's first to Asia as governor.