WASHINGTON — The Biden administration is putting out the word in advance that an expected unofficial stopover in the United States by Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen would fall in line with recent precedent and should not be used as a pretext by Beijing to step up aggressive activity in the Taiwan Strait.
In recent weeks, senior US officials in Washington and Beijing have underscored to their Chinese counterparts that transit visits through the United States during broader international travel by the Taiwanese president have been routine in recent years, according to a senior administration official. The official spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the sensitive matter.
In such visits in recent years, Tsai has met with members of Congress and the Taiwanese diaspora and has been welcomed by the chairperson of the American Institute in Taiwan, the US government-run nonprofit that carries out unofficial relations with Taiwan.
Tsai transited through the United States six times between 2016 and 2019 before slowing international travel with the coronavirus pandemic. In reaction to those visits, China rhetorically lashed out against China and Taiwan.
The Biden administration is trying to avoid a replay of the heavy-handed response by China that came after then House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., visited Taiwan last year.
Following Pelosi’s August visit, Beijing launched missiles over Taiwan, deployed warships across the median line of the Taiwan Strait and carried out military exercises near the island. Beijing also suspended climate talks with the US and restricted military-to-military communication with the Pentagon.
Beijing sees official American contact with Taiwan as encouragement to make the island’s decades-old de facto independence permanent, a step US leaders say they don’t support. Pelosi was the highest-ranking elected American official to visit the island since Speaker Newt Gingrich in 1997.
Under the “one China” policy, the US recognizes Beijing as the government of China and doesn’t have diplomatic relations with Taiwan but has maintained that Taipei is an important partner in the Indo-Pacific. (AP)
In this photo released by the Taiwan Presidential Office, Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen speaks by phone with the Czech Republic's President elect Petr Pavel in Taipei, Taiwan, Jan. 30, 2023. The Biden administration has been stressing to Beijing that an expected unofficial visit to the United States by Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen should not be used as pretext by Beijing to step up aggressive activity in the Taiwan Strait. (AP)
March 21, 2023
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