“Together, we will continue to build a deep and lasting partnership.”

That was the unmistakable, powerful message Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin conveyed Monday to President Tsai Ing-wen of Taiwan and the people of the Asian island nation.  

In his first official overseas trade mission for the commonwealth of Virginia, Youngkin made a notable visit to Taiwan, America’s vital partner in the Indo-Pacific region.

Demonstrating his support for Taiwan, one of the world’s leading free market democracies, Youngkin noted that “Virginia and Taiwan share a lot in common, beginning with the ingenuity, skill, and spirit of our people.” He further noted that “as we celebrate many years of bilateral business relations between Taiwan and Virginia, I am committed to reinvigorating our partnership.”

Youngkin’s executive order to create a Virginia-Taiwan trade office in Taipei by June 30, which was signed during his visit on Monday, emphasizes:

Virginia’s relationship with Taiwan is a meaningful driver of the national partnership, with recent growth in annual product exports from Virginia significantly outpacing that of the broader nation. Furthermore, Taiwan and Virginia share common values, including democratic norms and support of a rules-based world order.

Indeed, these kinds of practical economic partnerships at state levels can foster real avenues of mutually beneficial strategic interaction between America and its willing, like-minded partner nations.

U.S. engagement with the world through the freedom to trade and to invest has been one of the frameworks upon which our prosperity rests. On that note, America’s 50 states should take a more practical look at the countries that have indicated a true willingness to forge closer economic partnerships with the United States.

Unambiguously, Taiwan stands out.

Taiwan stands for freedom, transparency, accountability, and other democratic characteristics that clearly differentiate it from China.

Taiwan’s commitment to cultivating a free economy and a vibrant civil society through independent democratic institutions has made the country a notable example for the world in terms of how an emerging country can move progressively into new chapters of development.

Also notable is that with Taiwan having developed into one of Asia’s most vibrant market-oriented democracies, its economic relationship with the United States has steadily grown stronger, becoming one of the most important pillars supporting the vital relationship between the two countries.

Taiwan ranked an impressive fourth in The Heritage Foundation’s recently released 2023 Index of Economic Freedom. The index assesses the economies of 184 countries based on 12 indicators of economic freedom—from property rights to financial freedom. These indicators are grouped into four categories: rule of law, limited government, regulatory efficiency, and market openness.

As the 2023 index notes, Taiwan’s economy is one of the world’s four “free” economies whose economic freedom scores are above the score of 80. A strong commitment to the rule of law and openness to global commerce have enabled it to become a global leader in economic freedom.

Truly, Taiwan’s proven track record of being a vibrant free market democracy is not only remarkable, but also should be further enhanced through pragmatic, strategic partnerships with the United States and other democratic allies around the world.

Taiwan’s economic and political transformations are far more than domestic successes. They have fundamentally altered Taipei’s relationship with Beijing, with Washington, and with the world. Taiwan’s embrace of free market democracy shows a better path for all the Chinese people.

Taiwan has demonstrated to the world that freedom is a stabilizing force, and that free enterprise, free association, and free speech lead to entrepreneurship, prosperity, and security. That’s precisely why Taiwan stands out and matters to the world more than ever.

Partners are critical to winning any global fight, particularly when members of the free world are facing increasing challenges from authoritarian nations. Nations sharing the values of freedom, a rock-solid commitment to preserving rules-based order, and a deep-seated desire to preserve and advance those democratic values are natural partners and allies.

Youngkin rightly took note of that by visiting Taiwan and elevating Virginia’s economic relationship with the highly capable free market democracy.

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