Taiwan has received a delegation of former top US officials. This is the first visit by such a group of prominent Americans since President Joe Biden took office.
The delegation includes former Senator Christopher Dodd and former Assistant Secretary of State Richard Armitage, and James Steinberg. They arrived by plane in Taipei’s capital on Wednesday, where Foreign Minister Joseph Wu was ready to welcome the foreign guests. The Americans are expected to be received by President Tsai Ing-wen on Thursday.
Such visits are extremely sensitive to China’s large neighbouring country, which considers the island with 23 million inhabitants as a renegade province. Beijing’s communist rulers are using diplomatic, economic and military pressure to isolate Taiwan internationally.
In the past year, the military threat from Beijing has increased significantly. The Chinese Air Force regularly invades Taiwanese airspace with fighter jets and bombers. On Monday, this was done by a record number of 25 aircraft from the Chinese Air Force.
Washington has recognized the Beijing government as the ruler of China since 1979. However, the Americans have always maintained relations with Taipei. The US parliament has also passed a law requiring the supply of defensive weapons to Taiwan.
Wednesday’s delegation will be sent to Taiwan when the arms transfers to Taiwan law turns 42. The now 78-year-old Biden also voted for the law as a senator. The delegation is also the result of a new directive from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which now allows heavier delegations to be sent to Taiwan.
There was already a lot of rapprochement between Taipei and Washington under Biden’s predecessor Donald Trump, while relations between the US and China deteriorated significantly. A challenging course on China is one of the few points on which Democrats and Republicans agree.
Still, Biden will not want to go against the grain of the Chinese too much. His climate envoy John Kerry will visit China on Wednesday in the hope of increasing international goals for halting climate change, despite the growing tensions between the United States and China. “We have major disagreements with China on a few important points, absolutely,” Kerry told CNN. “But the climate should be independent of that.”