Former United States Senator Chris Dodd and former Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage and James Steinberg led Tuesday at the request of President Joe Biden, in what a White House official called a “personal signal” about the president’s commitment to the Chinese island and its democracy.
A senior Biden administration official told Reuters that the dispatch of the “unofficial” delegation comes when the United States and Taiwan mark the 42nd anniversary of the Taiwan Relations Act, for which Biden voted when he was a U.S. senator.
The delegation will meet with senior Taiwanese officials and follow “a long-standing two-party tradition of high-level, unofficial US delegations to Taiwan,” the official said.
The official called it “a personal signal” from the president, who took office in January.
“The election of these three individuals – senior statesmen who have long been friends with Taiwan and personally close to President Biden – sends an important signal of US commitment to Taiwan and its democracy.”
Taiwan’s presidential office said President Tsai Ing-wen would meet with the delegation on Thursday morning.
Taiwan’s Foreign Ministry said the group would arrive at Taipei Songshan Airport in the middle of Wednesday afternoon.
The Foreign Ministry said on Friday that it issued new guidelines to enable US officials to meet more freely with Taiwanese officials, a step that deepens relations with Taipei amid intensified Chinese military activity around the island, which China claims is its own.
Former President Donald Trump angered China by sending several senior officials to Taiwan, and his Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced days before the Trump presidency ended in January that he had lifted restrictions on contacts between U.S. officials and their Taiwanese counterparts.
Taiwan is China’s most sensitive territorial issue and a major dispute with Washington, which US law requires to provide the island with the means to defend itself.
“The United States is committed to engaging Taiwan and deepening our cooperation on common interests in line with the United States'” one-China “policy,” said a Biden administration official, referring to the long-standing US policy according to which Washington officially recognizes Beijing. rather than Taipei.
The official waved a question about whether the dispatch of the delegation may have been coordinated to coincide with US climate envoy John Kerry’s visit to Shanghai this week, saying that climate talks with Beijing “should not be linked to other areas of the relationship.”
“And it certainly does not diminish our concern about Beijing’s behavior,” the official said. “Our unofficial engagement with Taiwan … should stand on its own.”
Asked about future contacts at official level with Taiwan following the announcement by the Foreign Ministry, the official replied: “We have no specific plans at the moment, for special trips, but … I really expect that we have missions and trips that are in line with our policy in China. “
The official said Taiwan and maintaining the status quo across the Taiwan Strait would be part of talks with Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga when he visits Washington for talks with Biden later this week.