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The United States is seeking more diplomatic contact with Taiwan, as China engages in military provocations towards the island.
The US State Department on Friday issued new guidelines to encourage diplomatic engagement with Taiwan, as the White House condemns recent Chinese military activities near the island. Although the US severed official relations with Taiwan to appease Beijing in 1979, Washington and Taipei enjoy a robust security partnership.
"These new guidelines liberalize guidance on contacts with Taiwan, consistent with our unofficial relations," State Department spokesperson Ned Price said. He claimed the guidelines aim "to encourage US government engagement with Taiwan that reflects our deepening unofficial relationship."
Taiwan's representative office in the US welcomed the guidelines in a tweet.
Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in January had declared he was lifting restrictions on communications between US and Taiwanese officials, during the final days of former President Donald Trump's administration.
The US move comes as China sends fighter jets into Taiwan's air defense identification zone, escalating tensions in the Asia-Pacific region. White House spokesperson Jen Psaki expressed US concerns over the military buildup in the Taiwan Strait earlier in the day.
"We've seen a concerning increase in PRC military activity in the Taiwan Strait, which we believe is potentially destabilizing," Psaki said during a press briefing Friday, referring to the People's Republic of China (PRC).
Taiwan Foreign Minister Joseph Wu said earlier in the week that the Taiwanese military would fight until "the very last day" if there is an invasion by Mainland China. Beijing does not view Taiwan as a separate nation but rather as a breakaway province from the mainland.
The top US military official in the Asia-Pacific, Admiral Phillip Davidson, warned in March during a Senate hearing that China could invade Taiwan in the next six years, as a move to supplant American influence in the region.
wd/sms (Reuters, AFP)