0115: Lifting Restrictions on US-Taiwan Contact, Craft-Tsai Virtual Meeting

The U.S. Lifts Restrictions on Official Contact with Taiwan

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced on January 9 that the Department of State is lifting the decades-long restrictions on contacts between U.S. officials and their Taiwanese counterparts, that have been in place since the U.S. cut diplomatic ties with Taiwan in favor of the People’s Republic of China in 1979. [1]

In a statement, Pompeo said that “for several decades the State Department has created complex internal restrictions to regulate our diplomats, servicemembers, and other officials’ interactions with their Taiwanese counterparts.” “The United States government took these actions unilaterally, in an attempt to appease the Communist regime in Beijing. No more,” he added.

Pompeo instructed executive branch agencies to consider “all ‘contact guidelines’ regarding relations with Taiwan previously issued by the Department of State . . . to be null and void.” He concluded that the U.S. and Taiwan “share common values of individual freedom, the rule of law, and a respect for human dignity” and “the US-Taiwan relationship need not, and should not, be shackled by self-imposed restrictions of our permanent bureaucracy.”

Following Pompeo’s announcement, the U.S. Ambassador to the Netherlands, Pete Hoekstra, and his Taiwanese counterpart, Chen Hsing-hsing, met at the U.S. embassy on Monday (Jan. 11). “Made some history today: Welcomed Taiwan Representative Chen to our Embassy,” Ambassador Hoekstra said in a tweet. “Glad that our @StateDept colleagues around the world will now be able to host our friends from this vibrant democracy on our Embassy grounds,” the tweet said. [2]

FAPA welcomes the decision to remove the restrictions on US-Taiwan official interactions, as this change makes clear that no U.S. administration should kowtow to China at the expense of US-Taiwan relations. FAPA is thankful for the bipartisan support in Congress for passing the Taiwan Assurance Act last December, which advocates for a review of the State Department’s guidance regarding relations with Taiwan.

The U.S. Supports Taiwan’s International Participation: Ambassador Craft Tells President Tsai

The U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Kelly Craft, and Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen held a virtual meeting on Thursday (Jan. 14). Ambassador Craft reaffirmed U.S. support for Taiwan’s international participation, while Tsai described Taiwan as a “force for good” that deserves a place on the world stage.

During the videoconference, which was arranged after her planned visit to Taiwan was abruptly cancelled, Ambassador Craft said that the U.S. will always stand with Taiwan as “friends and partners, standing shoulder to shoulder as pillars of democracy.” 

Ambassador Craft praised Taiwan as a model for the world, “as demonstrated by its success in fighting COVID-19 and all that Taiwan has to offer in the fields of health, technology & cutting-edge science,” according to her tweet posted after the video call. However, it is unfortunate that Taiwan is unable to share its successes at UN venues, including the World Health Assembly, due to obstruction by China, she added.

For her part, President Tsai noted that Taiwan has the capability and resolve to contribute to global society. As such, Taiwan will continue its efforts to join the United Nations and its related agencies so that the world will know that Taiwan can be an important partner. President Tsai expressed hope that the U.S. would support Taiwan’s bid to join the UN.

Tsai thanked Craft for “always speaking up for Taiwan at the most important time.” The people of Taiwan “actually like you a lot,” Tsai told the ambassador, citing many examples, including Craft’s post on Twitter last year that supported Taiwan’s UN participation and showed a Formosan black bear doll with the ambassador.

FAPA urges the U.S. to uphold the UN principles of inclusiveness and non-discrimination, and support Taiwan’s “full membership” or, at least, “observer State status” in the United Nations. It is a reality that Taiwan, which meets all the legal criteria of Statehood, has long existed as an independent sovereign State that deserves equal right to participate in UN affairs.

Sources: Focus Taiwan, Taipei Times