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Sunday, May 19, 2024

Utah team comes back from crucial Taiwan trade mission amidst escalating conflicts


SALT LAKE‌ CITY — A team​ of representatives from Utah’s aerospace, defense, and research sectors embarked on a journey to Taiwan earlier ‍this month. Their mission was to‌ establish connections with a nation that is increasingly ⁤feeling the need ‍to ​fortify its borders.

“The looming threat of conflict ​often propels‍ us as a society to expedite technological advancements,” stated⁤ Aaron Starks, the president of 47G (previously known ​as the ⁣Utah Aerospace and Defense Association), the organization behind the trip. “While it’s a ⁢regrettable situation,⁣ we‍ understand that in regions ⁣like Israel, Ukraine, and Taiwan, where the threat level is high, there’s a ‍greater volume of business to‌ be conducted.”

47G has a ‌history of organizing such delegations in areas where, in ​Starks’‍ words,⁢ “There’s a⁣ greater chance for companies to test and validate their technologies in​ unique ways.”

From ⁣April 8-12, Utah-based ⁣companies ⁢engaged in a series of meetings, presentations, and bus rides with Taiwan’s national defense ‌leadership, research institutions, and manufacturers.

“Upon landing, our ⁣delegation had immediate access to the right people, enabling our companies to swiftly close deals,” shared Caroline⁣ Chapdelaine, the CEO of Northstar Photonics.

Escalating Global⁢ Tensions

Chapdelaine, a former Army intelligence officer stationed in Korea‌ and Thailand,‌ attributed the rising tensions in the Asian Pacific to the ‌U.S. and China’s growing realization of Taiwan’s strategic​ importance due to its semiconductor industry.

According to Chapdelaine, China has struggled⁣ to kickstart its semiconductor industry, ‍partly due to​ the U.S.’s efforts to keep Huawei, its ⁣largest telecommunication company,⁣ in⁣ check through economic measures and tariffs. Meanwhile, “The ‍U.S. has become aware just how ‍far behind ‍it is,” she said, and is making every effort to prevent Taiwan from falling into either extreme.

The global supply chain for semiconductors is a delicate ecosystem that‌ has been disrupted by conflict in recent years. A ‍report by⁣ the U.S. International Trade Commission reveals that Ukraine‍ supplies 25-30% of the world’s​ purified neon gas, a key component for chip manufacturing, while Taiwan accounts for 18% ⁣of global chip manufacturing and a staggering 92% of advanced chip manufacturing‌ as of 2023.

Despite the tense situation, members ⁣of the⁢ delegation expressed surprise at the calm demeanor‌ of Taiwanese officials. “We’ve seen a lot more media attention in the U.S. on what’s happening in ⁣Taiwan,” Chapdelaine ⁤said, “so my thought ​would be,⁢ the ‌Taiwanese view has probably changed significantly, and they’re a lot more scared.” However, for a generation that has⁤ always lived ⁣under tension with its larger​ neighbor, China’s recent “border poking” is not seen as a significant threat, the Army veteran was informed.

“I was taken aback by how relaxed the Taiwanese are,” said Dominic Kelly, director of KordUSA. ⁣”They’re accustomed to living under the threat of a massive⁢ nation on their doorstep wanting to absorb them.” ⁤Kelly noted⁤ that the companies ⁤he met with face constant ‍cybersecurity threats.

“Their counter-cyber teams are constantly fending off‌ cyberattacks on a daily basis,” he said. “The intensity is incredible. They’re essentially waging a daily war against⁢ the⁣ Chinese.”

Utah’s Global Presence

The 47G⁢ team — which includes ⁣former Utah Republican Party vice chairman Starks, co-founder and lobbyist Adam Gardiner, chief of staff⁢ Robert Carroll, and a board of directors featuring former U.S. Rep. Chris Stewart, commercial real-estate tycoon Brandon Fugal, Governor’s‍ Office ​of Economic Opportunity‌ managing‌ director Kori Ann Edwards, USU President ⁢Elizabeth Cantwell, among others — uses its extensive‍ connections to link organizations‌ with potential partners, mentors, and customers, for a membership fee.

Participants⁤ in ⁢the‌ association⁢ have the opportunity to work ​closely with⁢ Utah’s legislative leadership, government officials, ⁢and elected representatives.

“Breaking into the defense and aerospace industry is a tough task,” Kelly said. “It requires deep pockets and tenacity. For small companies, any assistance is invaluable. That’s where 47G steps in to help ‍small companies penetrate⁣ this space.”

Kelly’s company’s technology, a controller ‌mounted to a rifle, akin to⁢ a​ Roku remote for all the other devices on a soldier’s‍ kit, was adopted by the Ukrainian military during a 47G trip last year. Kelly‌ is now in advanced discussions with Taiwan’s‌ military for‍ potential ​orders.

Kelly noted that Utah’s reputation preceded them in Taiwan, with government ​officials expressing enthusiasm about the state’s “broad ‍international focus,” and its large population of bilingual, well-educated,⁣ and ⁤well-traveled workers.

Zhongquan Zheng, head of the engineering department at Utah State University, said, “As⁢ universities, we sometimes lack such a wide ​range⁤ of ⁢connections.” Zheng worked to establish pathways ⁣for Utah ‍students ‌to work and study in Taiwan and vice versa.

“When we ​consider a⁣ trade⁣ mission opportunity, like‌ Taiwan, we aim to send a balanced delegation,”​ Starks said. “Companies need to know who⁣ their buyers,‍ partners, investors are. Cities and counties want to be able to learn best practices around defense and security.”

According ⁤to Starks,​ “Taiwan’s ability to protect itself and maintain its‍ status ⁢as an independent society depends entirely ⁤on the United States.”

“It’s a sobering ⁣reality,” he said, “but Utah​ has ⁢a ​crucial role to play on a national level.”

Truth Media Network
Truth Media Network
News aggregated courtesy of Truth Media Network.
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  1. Agree – International trade relationships are essential for economic growth, regardless of conflicts. #trade #Utah #Taiwan #diplomacy


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