US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has said that Washington is lifting long-standing restrictions on contacts between diplomats from Taiwan and America. The State Department further said in a statement that these self-imposed restrictions were introduced years ago to appease Beijing – which lays claim to the territory – are now “null and void.”
Political experts have suggested that this move is likely to trigger mainland China and increase tensions between the rival nations. The extraordinary announcement comes days ahead of President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration on January 20. The Democrat had earlier stated that he would continue the same US policy towards Taiwan, but if his administration wants to reverse the step, it could be easily done by Pompeo’s successor Anthony Blinken.
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Beijing regards Taiwan as its breakaway province, but the indigenous leaders argue that the nation is a sovereign state. Besides, the tensions between the two have flared up in recent years, with the constant threat of a serious military escalation that could also drag in Washington, a key ally of Taiwan. In Saturday’s statement, Pompeo said that previously the State Department had imposed restrictions, limiting contact between the Taiwanese and US diplomats.
He further described Taiwan as a reliable American partner and a vibrant democracy. Soon after the announcement, the island nation’s foreign minister Joseph Wu thanked Mike Pompeo, saying that he was “grateful.” Wu further added in a tweet, “The closer partnership between Taiwan and the US is firmly based on our shared values, common interests, and unshakeable belief in freedom and democracy.”
Only recently, in August, US Human Services and Health Secretary Alex Azar became the highest-ranking American official to hold political meetings on the island for the first time in decades. Azar’s meeting prompted the Chinese to urge the US to respect what it calls the “one China” principle. Although Washington has no formal defense treaty with Taiwan, it sells arms to the country, as it does with South Korea, the Philippines, and Japan.
During the civil in 1940, China and Taiwan were divided, and since then, the Chinese regime has put all its resources to limit the nation’s foreign activity, and both have pushed for regional influence. However, in recent years, the tension between the two has escalated at an alarming level, with Beijing not ruling out a military force to take back the island. Even though only a few countries across the world officially recognize Taiwan as an independent country, the state has strong informal and commercial relations with many nations.
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