Published: Wed, January 13, 2021

Taiwan to remain U.S. priority despite cancellation of envoy visit

Taiwan to remain U.S. priority despite cancellation of envoy visit

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, whose planned trip to Europe was also cancelled, issued a statement Saturday easing self-imposed restrictions on all contacts between USA diplomatic officials and their Taiwanese counterparts. Pompeo described the rules as previous administrations' attempts to "unilaterally...appease the communist regime in Beijing".

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says President Donald Trump's legacy is larger than the deadly riots that may lead to him being impeached a second time.

Hsiao Bi-khim, Taiwan's representative in Washington, said on Twitter the decision represented "decades of discrimination, removed". "But because they're coming so late, they're just incremental moves toward nothing in particular".

A planned trip to Taiwan by the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Kelly Craft has been canceled.

"Taken earlier, these measures might have been incremental moves toward a big change - diplomatic recognition of Taiwan", she said.

Craft had been due to visit Taiwan from Wednesday to Friday, prompting China to warn that Washington was playing with fire. "In many ways, I think the Trump administration is looking to use Taiwan as a weapon against China".

The State Department's foreign service manual says that USA government officials may not use their official passports when traveling "to, from, or through" Taiwan because the US does not have official diplomatic relations with Taipei.

The United States called off last-minute trips by top envoys to its allies in Europe and Taiwan on Tuesday in a sudden diplomatic volte-face during the chaotic swansong days of the Trump administration.

Chinese fighter jets approached the island in August and September during the last two visits - by U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar and U.S. Under Secretary of State for Economic Growth, Energy, and the Environment Keith Krach, respectively.

Announcing his decision, Pompeo said the move is part of Washington's strategy to protect and preserve United States interests in the face of challenges presented by the Chinese government.

Taiwan has lobbied the incoming Biden administration to ensure it remains a priority, and Hsiao, the representative to Washington, spoke in November to Antony Blinken, Biden's nominee for secretary of state.

The spokesperson reiterated Biden's commitment to the 1979 Taiwan Relations Act, a foundational law that "will dictate future interactions in the Biden administration", said Rosalyn Hsieh, an associate political science professor at Temple University.

Asselborn described Trump as a "political pyromaniac who must be brought before a court" over last week's attack on the US Capitol by his supporters.

Leaders of other top USA allies said the same.

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