In a sign of Washington’s will to defy China and isolate the self-governing island, a top US diplomat will be the highest-ranking State Department official to visit Taiwan in 40 years on Thursday .
The US State Department said that Keith Crack, the state’s Under Secretary for Economic Development, Energy and Environment, was visiting Taipei on Saturday to attend a memorial service for the late President Li Teng-hui.
A second high-ranking visit to the US in several months immediately rebuked China, which fomented any recognition of Taiwan and implemented a decades-old policy of marginalizing the democratic island.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin told reporters on Thursday, “China strongly opposes it. The visit said” Taiwan independence encourages arrogant attitude of separatist forces.
Beijing considers Taiwan a part of its territory, to be absorbed into the mainland if necessary.
Relations between the United States and China are at their lowest point in decades, with trade, military and security issues clashing between the two sides, as well as a coronavirus epidemic.
Washington’s increased outreaf to Taiwan under the leadership of US President Donald Trump has become another flashpoint between the two powers.
“The United States honors President Lee’s legacy by continuing through shared political and economic values with Taiwan and its vibrant democracy,” spokesman Morgan Ortagus announced in a statement to Crutch’s visit.
Taiwan’s Foreign Ministry said that Kraak, along with Assistant Secretary Robert Destro, would also discuss “how to strengthen bilateral economic cooperation” during their three-day visit.
It described him as the largest-ranking State Department official to have visited Taiwan since 1979, when Washington granted diplomatic recognition to Beijing from Taipei.
Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen will host a dinner for the US delegation on Friday.
His office said in a statement, “We look forward to strengthening the cooperation for the foundation, including economic cooperation between Taiwan and the US with greater dialogue and economic cooperation.”
Ambassador’s meeting in New York
Beijing discourages any official exchanges with Taiwan but in recent months, Washington has dramatically increased its outreach.
Last month, US cabinet member and health chief Alex Azar visited to highlight Taiwan’s widely acclaimed efforts to stop Kovid-19.
On Thursday, Taiwan’s Foreign Ministry also confirmed that a rare meeting took place between James Lee, its top official in New York, and Washington’s ambassador to the United Nations, Kelly Clarke.
Beijing has increased diplomatic, economic and military pressure on Taiwan since Tsai’s 2016 election, rejecting the idea that the island is part of “one China”.
In recent weeks, Taiwan has reported a sharp increase in infiltration by Chinese jets into its air defense detection area.
On Thursday, Taiwan’s Ministry of Defense said that two Chinese anti-submarine aircraft had crossed the border a day earlier and were warned to leave.
Washington remains the major arms supplier to the island, but has historically been cautious in having official contact with it.
Trump has embraced Taiwan more closely as a way to officially hit back, especially as he seeks re-election in November.
He has also approved some major arms sales, some of his recent predecessors were more reluctant to do.
But the United States has not yet deviated from the unwritten red line on Taiwan, as it has not sent senior officials whose primary responsibilities are foreign affairs or defense.
Lee, who died in July at the age of 97, was a towering figure in Taiwan’s history, once in transforming the authoritarian island into a vibrant democracy and later recognizing China as a sovereign country By pushing for
When news of his death broke, Chinese state media called him “the godfather of Taiwan secularism”.
Crutch, with his economic focus, will visit Taiwan in search of a trade agreement with the United States.
Taiwan removed a major hurdle last month by loosening security restrictions on US beef and pork – a major constituency for Trump, welcome news for farmers as the election approaches.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and published from a syndicated feed.)