China-U.S. ties: Understanding Pompeo's Taiwan move

European official declares Trump a ‘political pyromaniac’ — Pompeo cancels trip report

The cancelled diplomatic trips round off four tumultuous years of foreign policy under President Donald Trump that tested Washington's traditional alliances in both Europe and Asia.

Some of the officials Pompeo planned to meet with have issued public statements of concern about the violence at the Capitol incited by President Trump as Pompeo has tried to castigate those impugning the health of America's democracy as committing "slander".

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had been due to make a final official visit to Europe while Kelly Clark, Washington's United Nations envoy, was set to land in Taiwan on Wednesday afternoon. His announced rule changes, which bipartisan members of Congress have supported for years, were read by many as an empty gesture by an unpopular outgoing secretary.

"The fact that they're doing it at the last minute. diminishes the seriousness of the move", said Shelley Rigger, Brown Professor of East Asian Politics at Davidson College. Bonnie Glaser, director of the China Power Project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington D.C., said the move may have come a bit too late.

Ambassador Craft was due to arrive in Taiwan Wednesday for a three-day visit that included meetings with President Tsai Ing-wen and other senior officials.

During his tenure, Trump signed off on some $18 billion in big-ticket arms deals for Taiwan and ramped up the frequency of official visits, including sending a cabinet official previous year, the highest-level delegation since 1979.

This has frequently angered Beijing, which has made its desire to assert sovereignty over Taiwan into a domestic priority under President Xi Jinping.

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. Pompeo also said that going forward, relations between the executive branches of the US government and Taiwan will now be handled by the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT), adding that this change had already been stipulated in the Taiwan Relations Act.

"Taiwan doesn't want to create friction with the incoming administration", she told AFP.

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

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. "The sixth of January 2021 was a 9/11 attack on democracy itself, and Trump was the one who egged it on".

The US ambassador to the Netherlands, Mr Pete Hoekstra, said on Twitter that Taiwan's representative to the country, Ms Chen Hsing-hsing, had met him at the embassy on Monday.

Taiwan's foreign ministry said on Tuesday it will continue to pursue a bilateral trade agreement with the U.S.

"At least with Biden in office there's a chance of economic progress", Rigger said.



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