State Department announces new guidance on talks with Taiwan
The State Department on Friday said it has issued new guidance on for government talks with Taiwan amid tensions with China over its increased military activity near the island.
State did not make the guidelines public but issued a statement explaining them. The statement did not lay out precisely what was included in the guidelines, but a State Department official confirmed to The Hill that the new rules would “encourage” working-level meetings to be held in federal buildings and the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office in the U.S.
“The Department of State has issued new guidelines for U.S. government interaction with Taiwan counterparts to encourage U.S. government engagement with Taiwan that reflects our deepening unofficial relationship. The guidance underscores Taiwan is a vibrant democracy and an important security and economic partner that is also a force for good in the international community,” State Department spokesperson Ned Price said in a statement.
“These new guidelines liberalize guidance on contacts with Taiwan, consistent with our unofficial relations,” he added.
Friday’s move comes after the State Department in January, under then-President Trump, removed restrictions over meetings with Taiwanese officials laid out in the State Department’s Foreign Affairs Handbook.
Taiwan’s top representative to the U.S., Bi-khim Hsiao, touted Friday’s announcement.
“We welcome the encouragement. Look forward to using new opportunities to work together to deepen the relationship,” she tweeted.
We welcome the encouragement. Look forward to using new opportunities to work together to deepen the relationship. https://t.co/RqVMCDNlPF
— Bi-khim Hsiao 蕭美琴 (@bikhim) April 9, 2021
The announcement comes amid heightening tensions around Taiwan, which has had autonomous rule for decades.
China considers the island to be its sovereign territory and has increased its military activity in the Taiwan Strait and through Taiwan’s air defense ID zone, a development the Biden administration said this week it was monitoring.
“In support of longstanding U.S. policy … the United States maintains the capacity to resist any resort to force or other forms of coercion that would jeopardize the security or the social or economic system of the people on Taiwan,” Price said this week. “We’ll continue to work with allies and partners in support of our shared prosperity, our security, and our values in the Indo-Pacific region, and that includes with regard to peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait.”
The U.S., under its “one China” policy, does not formally recognize Taiwan’s independence. However, it provides the island with military and diplomatic support in a strategy known as “strategic ambiguity.”
Adm. Philip Davidson, the military commander for the Indo-Pacific region, raised eyebrows in a congressional hearing last month that he determined that China could try to invade Taiwan in six years and that the U.S. policy “should be reconsidered.”