The US State Department has announced that it is canceling all high-profile overseas travel in a move to help transition to the next administration.
The US State Department has canceled the planned visit to Taiwan by its UN ambassador which has met with strong opposition and a warning from China.
The department said it was canceling all high-profile overseas trips, including Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s planned trip to Belgium, in a move to help with the transition to the next administration.
US Ambassador to the UN Kelly Craft was due to begin a three-day visit on Wednesday, which reportedly involved meetings with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen and Foreign Minister Joseph Wu, as well as a speech.
Ms Craft’s trip was one of two twilight movements by the Trump administration that is increasing official trade with the autonomous island while provoking China, which claims Taiwan as part of its territory.
The United States and China have clashed over everything from the origins of the pandemic to Hong Kong. China had previously warned that the United States would pay a “heavy price” in response to the planned visit.
This follows an announcement by Pompeo on Saturday that the United States will remove long-standing restrictions on how its diplomats and others relate to their Taiwanese counterparts.
Under the Trump administration and bipartisan support from Congress, relations with Taiwan have warmed considerably, with the government increasing the frequency and quality of arms sales to the island government.
Ms Craft herself had a public lunch with Taiwan’s top official in New York, James KJ Lee, director of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Bureau in New York, a meeting she called “historic.” She was reportedly the third senior US official to visit Taiwan in recent months.
In August last year, US Secretary of Health Alex Azar became the highest-ranking US cabinet official to visit since the United States transferred official relations from Taiwan to China in 1979.
Taiwan is a sensitive issue for the ruling Communist Party in China, which views the self-governing island democracy of 23.6 million people as a renegade province that should be placed under its rule.
As part of the “One China” policy, the United States recognizes Beijing as the government of China and does not have diplomatic relations with Taiwan. However, it maintains unofficial contacts, including a de facto embassy in Taipei, the capital, and provides military equipment for the defense of the island.
In Beijing, the Cabinet Office for Taiwan Affairs declined to say whether the cancellation of Craft’s visit was a positive sign for Sino-US relations.
“Our position is very clear. We resolutely oppose all official exchanges between the US side and the Taiwan region, call on the US to immediately stop its bad approach, ”spokesman Zhu Fenglian told reporters at a bimonthly press briefing. .
One expert said the visit would also have presented a dilemma for the Taiwanese government.
“It’s also a puzzle for Taiwan. If you welcome them widely, with high standards, then you are expressing that you are very, very close to the Trump administration, and in the eyes of the future Biden administration, this is not good for Taiwan, ”said Yu-Shan. Wu. From Academia Sinica, one of the best research institutions on the island.
Ms. Wu also noted that the current policy measures could be reversed, pointing to the historic meeting between former Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou and the Chinese leader in 2015. “At the time, although the leaders of Taiwan and China met, it seemed like a climax, but then things turned around completely.
In 2016, Taiwan elected pro-independence Tsai Ing-wen as president, and China severed contact with the government soon after.