Representative Ro Khanna, a California Democrat who represents much of the Silicon Valley, said he plans trips to both China and Taiwan this year in an effort to stabilize the U.S.-Chinese trade relationship and strengthen ties to the Taiwanese semiconductor industry.
Business leaders in his district advised Khanna on the importance of going to both places, he said, adding that his tech-heavy constituency influences his perspective.
“I want to rebalance the economic relationship, the trade relationship, but I don’t want there to be a Cold War,” Khanna, who sits on the House Select Committee on China, said in a Thursday interview with Bloomberg News. “I would not view a trip to Taiwan as precluding engagement with China, so I would do both.”
Khanna would travel to Taiwan for economic reasons, he added, highlighting the semiconductor industry and describing the Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. Ltd. as “critical to my district.” He has discussed his travel plans with other lawmakers and intends to go with a coalition, he said, while declining to provide a specific list.
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His plans mark a departure from the stance of both Republicans and Democrats in Congress, who frequently assail the Beijing government and express affinity and support for Taiwan.
A trip to Taiwan last summer by then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a Democrat, touched off a furious response by China, which staged military exercises around the island. Her Republican successor, Kevin McCarthy, has said that he wants to visit as well. At least 37 U.S. lawmakers visited Taiwan last year, by far the most in a decade, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
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At the same time, the Biden administration has committed to a policy of promoting the manufacturing of chips in the U.S.
Khanna spoke on the same day that administration officials held briefings on Capitol Hill regarding the Chinese balloon that was shot down last weekend after traversing the U.S. The officials said the balloon was capable of collecting communications signals and was part of a military-led spy program that spanned more than 40 countries.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken has indefinitely postponed his trip to China because of the incident, underscoring how unusual Khanna’s planned trip would be amid tensions between the two countries.
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China’s Foreign Ministry said Friday the balloon was a civilian craft and its transit across the U.S. was an “isolated, unexpected incident.“
Khanna added that he would coordinate his trip with the State Department and U.S. Ambassador to China Nicholas Burns, and would go at a time the Biden administration deems appropriate.
House Foreign Affairs Chairman Michael McCaul, a Texas Republican, said in a Tuesday interview that he is organizing a trip to Taiwan as a “deterrence” to China. The schedule and member list for that trip, which is tentatively planned for the April recess, remains fluid.
“My trip is not to make some political statement if I go,” Khanna said, adding that he would intend to deter any invasion of Taiwan while advocating trade rebalancing.
“I want to go both,” he said. “I think, actually, that matters — and I have an understanding, in some sense, of that because I know a lot of leaders in Silicon Valley who’ve gone to both, from Intel to Apple.”
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