US Ambassador to the UN to visit Taiwan

US ambassador to the un
Photo: Alex Brandon/ AP

US Ambassador to the UN Kelly Craft will today begin a three-day visit to Taipei that will include meetings with diplomatic counterparts including Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-Wen.

Today’s meeting, the first of its kind since 1968, comes days after US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo lifted self-imposed restrictions on US-Taiwanese official contacts, a move to deepen ties with Taipei during President Trump’s final days in office. The restrictions, enacted in 1979, were implemented to honour Beijing’s claim to the island during the Sino-Soviet split.

Taiwan has celebrated Pompeo’s move as historic and sees it as granting legitimacy to its claim to statehood. Beijing, in response, has excoriated the decision as stoking the island’s successionist ambitions and intended to force incoming President Joe Biden’s hand on the Taiwan issue.

Expect today’s meeting to result in symbolic exchanges. Craft’s meetings today will likely emphasise the US government’s support for Taiwan and her Taiwanese counterparts and celebrate the historic step forward in strengthening US-Taiwan ties. Beijing is unlikely to react to this apparent provocation outside of its denouncing the action as flagrantly disregarding the One-China policy, likely instead biding its time until impending discussions with the incoming Biden administration. Still, though Biden supports the 1979 restrictions, it is unlikely his administration will immediately reimpose them, and will instead use them as a bargaining chip in future talks.

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