It began with a surprise phone call and will end with a surprise trip, but the Trump administration’s close relationship with Taiwan will come to an end next week when Kelly Craft, the US ambassador to the United Nations, arrives in Taipei just days before his inauguration. President-elect Joe Biden.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced the groundbreaking visit Thursday, in a statement in which he also condemned the Chinese Communist Party for its role in the war. Mass arrests Of 53 pro-democracy politicians, activists, and academics in Hong Kong earlier this week.
The trip, scheduled for January 13-15, is the first time such a senior official has visited the island.
Pompeo described Taiwan as “a reliable partner and a vibrant democracy that has prospered despite the Chinese Communist Party’s efforts to undermine its great success.”
The trip brings a full circle to a relationship that began just over four years ago on December 2, 2016, when US President Donald Trump broke tradition for many years and accepted a congratulatory phone call from Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen.
– American Media Center for Asia and the Pacific (eAsiaMediaHub) January 8, 2021
The phone call angered officials in Beijing, which claims sovereignty over Taiwan. Since then, the United States has benefited from Taiwan in the Trump administration’s strained relationship with China, experts say.
Bonnie Glaser, director of the China Energy Project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said Kraft’s trip, however, is the most public statement yet.
The State Department’s announcement of the upcoming visit, which directly linked the decision to send Ambassador Kraft to Taiwan and China’s actions against pro-democracy activists in Hong Kong, is the clearest evidence yet that the Trump administration views Taiwan as a bludgeon it can use against Beijing, Glaser said By email.
In an immediate response, the Chinese mission to the United Nations warned that “whoever plays with fire will burn himself.”
Anxiety about the future
As Washington’s relationship with Beijing has deteriorated over the past four years, Taiwan has taken advantage of this Record of arms sales And the The Visits By top US officials, including Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar and a two-star military general, earlier this year.
Trump also signed the Taiwan Guarantees Act into law late last year, deepening relations between the United States and Taiwan even though neither country maintains formal diplomatic ties.
Many Taiwanese are concerned about the approach Biden, the Democrat, will take after he is sworn in on January 20.
Democrats have traditionally maintained closer ties with Beijing, and China has increased the pressure on Taiwan since Tsai was first elected president in 2016.
Since its overwhelming re-election a year ago, the Chinese People’s Liberation Army has stepped up its military maneuvers near Taiwan’s airspace and its unofficial border in the Taiwan Strait.
Glaser says she expects to see more exercise next week.
China said: We would like to remind the United States that whoever plays with fire will burn himself. The United States will pay a heavy price for its wrong doing. Expect the People’s Liberation Army to send large numbers of military aircraft to the Taiwanese ADIZ [air defence identification zone] And across the midline of the strait.
However, Glaser and other analysts doubt Beijing will do much more than fiery rhetoric.
They will watch Biden and hope for improved relations with the United States once he takes the helm despite broad bipartisan support for a tougher line on China.
“Regarding China’s response, it is possible that China will direct its anger at Taiwan only, reluctance to take any punitive measures against Washington two weeks before the new administration, which Beijing hopes will be a reset of the US-China relationship,” he said. Jessica Drone is a nonresident fellow at Project 2049 Institute.
Ian Roen, of Nanyang Technological University in Singapore, says that despite the nature of the visit that made headlines, it will likely have little real impact on relations between Taiwan and the United States given the timing and uncertainty about Biden’s approach.
“Kraft’s visit to Taiwan is unlikely to have immediate effects on anyone except Kraft and her team, who may briefly hint at what democracy has a strong public health infrastructure and commitment [what] The transmission of energy appears to be cleaner. “
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