Pompeo lifting restrictions on US-Taiwan contacts

Pompeo lifting restrictions on US-Taiwan contacts
© Greg Nash

Secretary of State Mike PompeoMike PompeoChristie, Pompeo named co-chairs of GOP redistricting group America needs a new strategy for Pacific Island Countries Harris to hold fundraiser for McAuliffe ahead of Virginia governor's race MORE moved Saturday to remove the State Department's restrictions governing meetings with Taiwanese officials, a move celebrated by Taiwan's government but likely to cause ire in Beijing.

In a press release, Pompeo declared that all parts of the agency's Foreign Affairs Handbook governing meetings between Taiwanese officials and various agencies in the executive branch, including the State Department, were to be voided.

"Today I am announcing that I am lifting all of these self-imposed restrictions. Executive branch agencies should consider all 'contact guidelines' regarding relations with Taiwan previously issued by the Department of State under authorities delegated to the Secretary of State to be null and void," Pompeo said.

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"The executive branch‘s relations with Taiwan are to be handled by the non-profit [American Institute in Taiwan], as stipulated in the Taiwan Relations Act," the statement continued.

In a tweet, Taiwan's top representative to the U.S., Bi-khim Hsiao, wrote that "[d]ecades of discrimination" were removed by the decision.

"A huge day in our bilateral relationship. I will cherish every opportunity," she added.

The move is likely to add to the list of U.S. actions in recent months that have riled officials in Beijing, as any action seen as signaling the U.S. alliance with Taiwan is usually seen by China as an insult due to Beijing's own claim over the island country.