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The United States and Taiwan do not have diplomatic relations, but the State Department says they maintain “a stable unofficial relationship.”

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Texas will open a state office in Taiwan to improve trade and cultural ties, Governor Greg Abbott announced Sunday during an economic development trip to Asia.

“Texas and Taiwan are important economic partners committed to advancing the future of innovation,” Abbott said in a press release from Taipei, the capital of the self-governing island off the coast of China. “Both initiatives – an economic agreement and a new Texas State Office in Taiwan – will strengthen economic and cultural ties between Texas and Taiwan.”

The new office in Taiwan will be under the Governor’s Department of Economic Development and Tourism.

The Asia trip also included visits to South Korea and Japan. The governor was accompanied by his wife, Cecilia, Texas Secretary of State Jane Nelson, Democratic Sen. Carol Alvarado of Houston, and Republican Reps. Angie Chen Button of Richardson, Giovanni Capriglione of Keller, and Jacey Jetton of Katy. Button was born in Taipei.

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The United States broke off diplomatic relations with Taiwan, once known as the Republic of China, in 1979. This was part of an agreement to normalize the country’s relations with the People’s Republic of China, which had been isolated after the communist takeover in 1949.

However, according to the US State Department, which describes Taiwan as a “leading democracy and technological superpower,” the US and Taiwan maintain “a stable unofficial relationship.”

“The United States and Taiwan share similar values, deep trade and economic ties, and strong people-to-people ties that form the foundation of our friendship and serve as an impetus for expanding U.S. engagement with Taiwan,” the U.S. State Department website states.

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Abbott signed a so-called memorandum of understanding on economic development with Taiwanese Minister of Economic Affairs Jyh-Huei Kuo “to further stimulate investment, expand trade, boost job creation and increase innovation in key industries between Texas and Taiwan.”

The document’s priorities include cooperation in sectors such as semiconductor manufacturing, electric vehicles and energy stability.