US delegation leaves Taiwan after three-day unofficial visit
Beijing, Apr 16 (EFE).- The United States delegation led by former senator Chris Dodd on Friday concluded a controversial three-day unofficial visit to Taiwan, reaffirming Washington’s support to Taiwan in defense, official media reported.
The delegation, which also included former deputy US secretaries of state Richard Armitage and James Steinberg, left Taiwan at 11:20 am on a private jet, state media outlet Focus Taiwan said.
During the visit, the US delegates met Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen and Prime Minister Su Tseng-chang.
On Thursday, Dodd told Tsai he was on the island at the request of his “old friend” (US President) Joe Biden, and adding that the Biden administration would help Taipei “expand your international space and support your investments in self-defense.”
Meanwhile the Taiwanese president asserted that China’s aerial excursions and other military maneuvers near Taiwan “threaten regional peace and stability.”
“We are very willing to work with like-minded countries, including the US, to jointly safeguard the peace and stability of the Indo-Pacific and deter adventurous maneuvers and provocations,” she said.
According to state news agency CNA, cooperation on economic and environment-related matters was also discussed in the meetings between the former top US officials and Taiwanese representatives.
On Wednesday, the first day of the visit, China launched military drills with live ammunition southwest of the island in the Taiwan Strait, and subsequently carried out repeated aerial incursions through its warplanes inside the Taiwanese air defense identification zone, with two F16 fighters entering the area on Thursday.
The US delegation’s visit to Taiwan has infuriated Beijing, which opposes any independent exchanges with the island.
At the same time, the US special envoy for climate change, John Kerry, arrived in Shanghai on Wednesday to discuss issues related to his portfolio in the first China visit of a high-ranking US official in over 20 months.
Tensions between China and the United States increased considerably during the term of former US president Donald Trump, who prioritized strengthening relations with Taiwan, including arms sales, despite the fact that in 1979 Washington broke off official diplomatic relations with Taipei.
The Taiwanese press has highlighted that Biden’s diplomatic team has chosen to take a prudent approach by carrying out an “unofficial” visit, in contrast to Trump administration officials visiting the island last year.
Taiwan has been governed autonomously since 1949 — when the Kuomintang nationalists from mainland China took refuge on the island after losing the civil war against the communists — although Beijing claims sovereignty over it and has not ruled out the use of force to regain it. EFE