US reaffirms defense support to Taiwan during unofficial visit

(Update 1: rewrites headline, lede, adds details)

Beijing, Apr 15 (EFE).- Former United States senator Chris Dodd said on Thursday in a meeting with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen that US President Joe Biden’s government would help the island expand its “international space” and support its “investments in self-defense.”

“You will find the Biden administration, Madam President, to be a reliable, trusted friend,” Dodd told Tsai in Taipei during his unofficial visit to the country along with two other former US officials.

In her speech, the Taiwanese president referred to recent incursions by Chinese warplanes and other military maneuvers that Beijing launched on Thursday as a reaction to the US visit.

“These actions alter the status quo in the Indo-Pacific and 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,” Tsai said, according to state-run news website Focus Taiwan.

Dodd said his presence on the island reaffirmed Washington’s commitment to Taiwan, and that the US expected to strengthen cooperation with Taiwan in different fields, including trade and matters related to climate change.

Meanwhile, Tsai highlighted that this was the first time the Biden administration had sent a delegation to Taiwan since coming to power, adding that the visit by three former top official was an evidence of the increasingly deeper ties between the two sides.

Dodd and former deputy secretaries of state Richard Armitage and James Steinberg landed on the island Wednesday, further fueling tension between Beijing and Washington.

Taiwan has been a key friction point between the US and China, which strongly protested against the visit on Wednesday, even as the US State Department issued new guidelines last week encouraging American officials to interact more freely with their Taiwanese counterparts.

Moreover, China began military exercises Thursday in southwest Taiwan – coinciding with the American delegation’s visit – that will last six days.

The Maritime Security Administration of China published a statement on its website Wednesday in which it prohibited any vessel from entering the designated area, where tests with live ammunition will be carried out.

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


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