U.S. EASES LIMITS ON TAIWAN CONTACTS
The State Department restored rules governing officials’ contacts with Taiwan that were lifted in the Trump administration’s final days, but said the new version eased unneeded restrictions as the US looks to counter increasing encroachment by China on the island’s sovereignty, Bloomberg News reported.
The new 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,” spokesman Ned Price said Friday. He said the revised rules “liberalize contacts with Taiwan, consistent with our unofficial relations.”
The move is designed to help restore some semblance of order to ties between the US and Taiwan, which China claims as its territory but which has governed itself since 1949.
With just days to go in President Donald Trump’s term, Secretary of State Michael Pompeo eliminated the existing guidelines entirely, declaring them “null and void.”
That decision created confusion as much as anything else, leaving officials unsure of what was allowed. For decades, contacts between the US and Taiwan were governed by rules of protocol that were part of a delicate dance aimed at avoiding antagonism with China while also allying the US with Taiwan’s government.
In effect, Friday’s move restores those limits while also demonstrating new support for an important ally. The State Department didn’t detail ways in which the guidelines will be loosened. But two people familiar with the move said that US officials would be allowed to host Taiwanese officials at US federal buildings and meet Taiwanese counterparts at its government offices.
They’ll also be able to go to events at the Twin Oaks estate in Washington that was the Taiwan ambassador’s residence before the US switched diplomatic recognition to China in 1979. In a decision that will anger Republican lawmakers, however, the Biden administration is restoring limits that prevent Taiwan from displaying its flag at such meetings.
Friday’s announcement comes as officials in the Biden administration worry that China’s ruling Communist Party will turn its focus more intently on Taiwan after largely eliminating Hong Kong’s independence movement over the last two years.