Under the presidency of Donald Trump, Washington has increased engagement with Taipei, especially during the past 12 months.
The Trump administration has authorized billions of dollars in arms sales to the autonomous island and, in August, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar became the highest-ranking US official to visit Taiwan in decades.
The improvement in ties with Taiwan came as the United States increased pressure on China and sought to build an anti-Beijing alliance in the region, and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in particular took a hard line on the issue. topic.
Beijing regards Taiwan as part of its territory, although it has never been controlled by the Communist Party and the island has been ruled separately since the end of the Chinese civil war in 1949. Chinese President Xi has vowed to “reunite” Taiwan. with the mainland. China, by force if necessary, and recent months have seen increasingly aggressive moves by the Chinese military.
On Friday, China’s Foreign Ministry Zhao Lijian said Beijing “firmly opposes all forms of official exchanges between the United States and Taiwan … so as not to harm peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait. and Sino-US cooperation in important areas. “
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“Our economic partnership with Taiwan, based on a shared commitment to free markets, the rule of law and transparency, is only getting stronger,” said US State Department spokesman Cale Brown on Twitter.
As officials gathered, the United States Navy sailed a warship across the Taiwan Strait, the first such transit since the elections, which the Navy says “demonstrates the United States’ commitment to an Indo-Pacific. free and open. “
While American ships routinely transit the strait, China views the strategic waterway that separates it from Taiwan as a priority area and often hides foreign ships as they navigate.
During the February Democratic primary, Biden referred to Chinese President Xi Jinping as a “bully” and said Beijing had to “play by the rules.” A Biden campaign ad in June accused Trump of being “duped” by China.
The renewed focus on China is evident in the Democratic Party platform document, which was released in August 2020. During the last presidential campaign in 2016, the document only made seven references to China. This year’s version was over 22.
“The Democrats will be clear, strong and consistent in pushing back where we have deep economic, security and human rights concerns about the actions of the Chinese government,” the 2020 platform said.
Biden also has a history of supporting Taiwan, both as a senator and since leaving office. In January, he tweeted congratulations to Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen when she won re-election.
That hasn’t stopped some hawks in China, as well as Chinese dissidents and independence supporters from Hong Kong and Taiwan, for fear that a Biden administration will take a softer line with Beijing. Recent moves by Pompeo and others could be intended to force the hand of the incoming administration, making it more difficult to reverse certain policies once in office.
Pompeo in July accused Beijing of violating human rights in Tibet, pointing to an increase in restrictions on religion, language and culture in the region, which has been controlled by China since 1950. Washington under Trump has urged a “meaningful autonomy” for Tibet, even like Beijing. he has denounced such statements as encouraging “splittism.”
In its statement, the CTA said that the logic for denying its officials entry to the White House and the US State Department “was that the US government does not recognize the Tibetan government in exile.”
“Today’s visit amounts to an acknowledgment of both the CTA’s democratic system and its political leader,” the statement added.
“(This) unprecedented meeting may set an optimistic tone for CTA’s engagement with US officials and will be more formalized in the years to come.”