TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Vice President Lai Ching-te (賴清德) said he intends to turn Taiwan into the "Silicon Valley of Asia" during his second and final stopover in the U.S. as part of a week-long trip for the inauguration of Paraguay President Santiago Pena.
Speaking in San Francisco on Thursday (Aug. 17), Lai said that Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (TSMC) has shown its commitment to remain in Taiwan, noting the company’s new research and development facility in northern Taiwan that opened in July, per UDN. Lai added that the world should know that Taiwan’s industries are also focused on information and communications technology (ICT), precision machining, electronics components, and other topics, and each industry is constantly innovating to maintain its important place in the global supply chain.
Lai, the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) candidate in Taiwan’s 2024 presidential election, was reportedly well received by the crowd, who chanted “Go Taiwan” and "Get elected,” after he spoke, per Reuters. Lai is leading the presidential race in most polls, including a My Formosa poll released on Thursday.
Lai also said he wishes to make Taiwan a world "MVP," or most valuable player, of democracy. "Here I make my promise to everyone: Going forward, I will do all I can to lead Taiwan continuously forward with peace as the lighthouse and democracy as the compass," Lai stated.
AIT Chair Laura Rosenberger speaks at an event attended by Lai Ching-te in San Francisco on Thursday, Aug. 17. (CNA photo)
Lai delivered the speech to an audience of largely overseas Taiwanese that also included Chair of the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) Laura Rosenberger. Rosenberger said the Biden administration is committed to expanding Taiwan’s engagement with like-minded partners.
"Taiwan is a crucial partner in U.S. efforts to maintain global peace and stability, including in the Taiwan Strait," she said. "Preserving this peace and stability is a core tenant of the United States' longstanding cross-strait policy and our commitment to help Taiwan's self-defense capacity is rock solid," Rosenberger added.
Lai delivered his speech using a mixture of Taiwanese Hokkien and Mandarin Chinese to a crowd of around 700. The visit marks his second time in San Francisco as vice president, the first being in January 2022.
China has issued a rebuke of Lai’s trip that reflects past statements about Taiwanese politicians visiting the U.S. Despite China’s condemnation, Lai’s visit has been noted by some Taiwanese scholars as being relatively “low-key” in nature, and therefore unlikely to trigger any large scale military response from China.
Lai Ching-te speaks in San Francisco on Thursday, Aug. 17. (CNA photo)