Rockford, IL – A business delegation from Taiwan is crossing the U-S, touting a multi- billion dollar deal to buy corn and soybeans from American farmers. Wednesday, they stopped in Rockford. The Taiwan Feed Industry and the Winnebago County Farm Bureau signed a "letter of intent,"with details to be worked out between importers and private suppliers. 16th District Congressman Don Manzullo is sure a significant amount of those sales will happen in northern Illinois. That's because the area is one of the larger producers of corn and soybeans in the country.
This delegation visits Illinois every two years for a similar announcement: usually, it only stops in Springfield. There's a reason Rockford was on the agenda this time. Earl Williams, Junior is a farmer and president of the Winnebago County Farm Bureau. He says the visit was in part a favor to Congressman Manzullo, because he has been a strong supporter of Taiwan for years.
And that was clear during Wednesday's ceremonies with Taiwanese officials. Perry Shen is Director General of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office, based in Chicago. He thanked Congressman Manzullo for his dedication, saying "he always does his best to promote a good relationship between the U.S. and Taiwan."
Shen then thanked Manzullo for his efforts to get the U-S government to approve the sale of technology upgrades for Taiwan's F-16 jet fighters. He said that "will enhance the peace and stability in eastern Asia." Manzullo says he wanted to supply even better fighter jets to the valuable trade partner. He cited agricultural ties and military security as two indicators of the closeness of the two countries.
The upgrade for Taiwan's 145 F-16s has angered the government of China. Chinese officials are asking the U-S to reconsider: they may cancel some joint military activities because of the deal.