WASHINGTON: The U.S. has agreed to end limitations on official communications with Taiwan, State Secretary Mike Pompeo said on Saturday, a development that Taipei welcomed as ending “decades of discrimination.”
In an effort to appease the Communist regime in Beijing, Pompeo said the “complex internal constraints” on communications with Taipei by diplomats, service members and others were put “in an attempt to appease the Communist regime in Beijing.” Pompeo added, “No more.” The declaration may be more symbolic than practical in effect, but China, which sees Taiwan as its own territory, still seems certain of indignation. The government of Taiwan supported the change.
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Hsiao Bi-khim, Taiwan’s diplomatic ambassador to the Nations, tweeted “Decades of discrimination, removed.” In our bilateral relationship, a big day. I will appreciate any chance.” Foreign Minister Joseph Wu said he was grateful that Pompeo had lifted “restrictions that limit our commitments unnecessarily.
The stronger Taiwan-US relationship is strongly focused on our mutual beliefs, common goals, and unshakeable confidence in democracy and independence,” he added.”
It arrives in the Donald Trump administration’s final weeks, also at a time of tensions between Beijing and both Washington and Taipei that have already been heightened.
It was not clear what the move meant in reality, with Pompeo saying that the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT), which is operated by the US government and functions as the de facto embassy, will manage executive branch communications with Taiwan. The change comes after a year of growing tensions between the US and the Chinese.
Over the last year, Trump has sent numerous senior officials to Taipei as he battled with China on a number of topics, ranging from its treatment of the coronavirus pandemic to trade, defence and human rights conflicts.
The declaration of Pompeo also came only two days after China warned the United States that if its United Nations envoy, Kelly Craft, made good on plans to fly to Taiwan on Wednesday, it would pay a “heavy price.”
Beijing is resistant to any Taiwanese diplomatic acknowledgment and has managed to hold the democratic island alone on the international stage.
Craft’s planned three-day visit, contributing to a series of diplomatic headaches awaiting the new administration, will arrive only a week before Joe Biden’s inauguration as US president.
China firmly urges the United States to stop its wild provocation, to stop posing new problems for the relations between China and the United States… The Chinese mission to the UN said in a statement referring to Craft’s journey, “and stop going further on the wrong path.”
An American statement said the visit of Craft, which Taiwan officially welcomed, would “reinforce the strong and ongoing support of the US government for the international space of Taiwan.” The AIT was established in 1979, when, under a historic agreement enabling it to end formal recognition of Taiwan, the United States extended diplomatic recognition to mainland China.
Yet Washington remains Taipei’s staunch ally and is bound by Congress to sell self-defense weapons to it. It rejects any attempt by intimidation to modify Taiwan’s current position.
In the past year, military tensions have risen sharper between mainland China and Taiwan, hitting their worst since the mid-1990s, some observers report.
Last year, a military official said Tuesday, Chinese jets made a reported 380 incursions into Taiwan’s security sector.
Since Tsai Ing-wen won election as president of Taiwan in 2016, Beijing’s animosity has drastically increased; she opposes Beijing’s insistence that the island is part of “one China.”