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Biden sends unofficial delegation to Taiwan in 'personal signal'

PoliticsApr 13, 2021 10:50PM ET
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© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Flags of Taiwan and U.S. are placed for a meeting between U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce speaks and with Su Chia-chyuan, President of the Legislative Yuan in Taipei

By David Brunnstrom and Michael Martina

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -Former U.S. Senator Chris Dodd and former Deputy Secretaries of State Richard Armitage and James Steinberg headed to Taiwan on Tuesday at President Joe Biden's request, in what a White House official called a "personal signal" of the president's commitment to the Chinese-claimed island and its democracy.

A senior Biden administration official told Reuters the dispatch of the "unofficial" delegation comes as the United States and Taiwan mark the 42nd anniversary of the Taiwan Relations Act, for which Biden voted when he was a U.S. senator.

The delegation will meet with senior Taiwanese officials and followed "a long-standing bipartisan tradition of U.S. administrations sending high-level, unofficial delegations to Taiwan," the official said.

The official called it "a personal signal" from the president, who took office in January.

"The selection of these three individuals – senior statesmen who are longtime friends of Taiwan and personally close with President Biden – sends an important signal about the U.S. commitment to Taiwan and its democracy."

Taiwan's presidential office said President Tsai Ing-wen would meet with the delegation on Thursday morning.

Taiwan's Foreign Ministry said the group would arrive at Taipei's downtown Songshan airport mid-afternoon on Wednesday.

The State Department said on Friday it was issuing new guidelines to enable U.S. officials to meet more freely with officials from Taiwan, a move that deepens relations with Taipei amid stepped-up Chinese military activity around the island, which China claims as its own.

Former President Donald Trump angered China by sending several senior officials to Taiwan, and his secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, announced days before the Trump presidency ended in January that he was lifting restrictions on contacts between U.S. officials and their Taiwanese counterparts.

Taiwan is China's most sensitive territorial issue and a major bone of contention with Washington, which is required by U.S. law to provide the island with the means to defend itself.

"The United States is committed to engaging Taiwan and deepening our cooperation on shared interests in line with the U.S. 'one-China' policy," the Biden administration official said, referring to the long-standing U.S. policy under which Washington officially recognizes Beijing rather than Taipei.

The official waved off a question as to whether dispatch of the delegation might have been coordinated to coincide with U.S. climate envoy John Kerry's visit to Shanghai this week, saying climate talks with Beijing "shouldn't be linked with other areas of the relationship."

"And it's certainly not to the diminishment of any of our concerns about Beijing's behavior," the official said. "Our unofficial engagement with Taiwan ... should stand on its own."

Asked about future official-level contacts with Taiwan after the State Department announcement, the official replied: "We don't have specific plans at this time, for particular travel, but... I certainly do expect for us to be having engagements and travel consistent with our one-China policy."

The official said Taiwan and preserving the status quo across the Taiwan Strait would be part of talks with Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga when he visits Washington for talks with Biden later this week.

Biden sends unofficial delegation to Taiwan in 'personal signal'
 

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Comments (17)
Me comment
Me comment Apr 14, 2021 11:30AM ET
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Funny use of the word unofficial.
Catholic Man
CatholicMan Apr 14, 2021 1:34AM ET
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42 years old seems too old for biden to sniff
Gamer Turtle
GamerTurtle Apr 14, 2021 12:36AM ET
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china patrols few hundreds outside of its border is a danger to the world. us droning tens of thousands miles away from its border is peace keeping for the mankind.
Al Gore
Al Gore Apr 13, 2021 10:59PM ET
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rapists sending rapists to *****
Harsha Rao
Harsha Rao Apr 13, 2021 10:57PM ET
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Send official delehstion and shun one china policy. Half ********attempts are of no use.
Bear Dudy
Bear Dudy Apr 13, 2021 10:34PM ET
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Taiwan is toast. The US will be boxed in on its foreeign policy left with 2 wrong choices. War is ***
David David
David9 Apr 13, 2021 9:58PM ET
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China will step up more drills... if at the moment they decide to announced independence, China will storm across and pull Mayor Tsai out...
Anthony Anthony
Anthony Anthony Apr 13, 2021 9:50PM ET
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Fix our own chit before digging others' krap.
milena villa escobar
milena villa escobar Apr 13, 2021 7:05PM ET
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Taiwan is roast. Just wait
Junk Man
Junk_Man Apr 13, 2021 6:29PM ET
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Causing trouble again... Fix US domestic issues first..
Roger Miller
Roger Miller Apr 13, 2021 6:19PM ET
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So if it follows "a long-standing bipartisan tradition of U.S. administrations sending high-level, unofficial delegations to Taiwan,",how does that make it a "personal signal"??  So it's a personal signal as well as a long standing tradition?  Or is the White House trying to milk anything and everything for brownie points?
milena villa escobar
milena villa escobar Apr 13, 2021 4:43PM ET
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Oh yeah I'm sure the Chinese are shaking in their boots.
CHAD TENDIES
CHAD TENDIES Apr 13, 2021 4:02PM ET
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Beijing Biden
MK MK
MK MK Apr 13, 2021 4:01PM ET
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Get away from other countries, ********yankies!
Jim Jones
Jim Jones Apr 13, 2021 2:35PM ET
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Just send them money, it works for all the other problems in the welfare state of America.
Roger Miller
Roger Miller Apr 13, 2021 2:35PM ET
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Yes, and call it "infrastructure".
Kenneth nelson
grasshopper Apr 13, 2021 2:24PM ET
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Sniffer, get out of the basement
ben sc
ben sc Apr 13, 2021 2:21PM ET
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Nothing spells commitment like an unofficial envoy.
 
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