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US sends unofficial delegation to Taiwan, angering China

April 14, 2021

China has urged the US to immediately stop official interactions with Taiwan. China has been flexing its military power in the region in recent months.

Former senator Christoper Dodd (1-R) and former US Deputy Secretary of State James Steinberg (1-L) greeted by Taiwan foreign minister Joseph Wu (2-R) wave as the unofficial delegation sent by US president Joe Biden arrives in Taiwan.
Former Senator Chris Dodd and former Deputy Secretaries of State Richard Armitage and James Steinberg are part of an unofficial delegationImage: Taiwan Central News Agency/ZumaPress/picture alliance

US President Joe Biden sent an unofficial delegation of former officials to Taiwan on Wednesday in a signal of support for the island, which China claims as its own.

Former Senator Chris Dodd, and former Deputy Secretaries of State Richard Armitage and James Steinberg arrived in Taiwan on Wednesday afternoon.

"Once again this visit demonstrates the firm relationship between Taiwan and the United States," said Xavier Chang, the spokesman for Taiwan's presidential office. The bond is "strong as a rock."

The visit comes just after Beijing flexed its growing military muscle on Monday.

Tension with China

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian urged the US to "immediately stop official interactions in any forms with Taiwan authorities and prudently handle Taiwan-related issues."

He warned the US not to "send any wrong signals to the Taiwan separatist forces, so as not to put more harm on Chinese relations and peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait."

Over the past year, China has increased its military presence with fighter jets and nuclear-capable bombers breaching Taiwan's air defense zone on a near-daily basis.

Just this Monday a record 25 Chinese military jets and bombers breached Taiwan's defense zone.

China uses diplomatic, economic and military pressure to keep Taiwan isolated on the world stage.

Washington and Taipei's History

The United States has diplomatically deferred to Beijing on the issue of Taiwan since 1979.

But the US maintains relations with Taiwan and is bound by an act of Congress to sell the island defensive weapons.

The United States also opposes any attempt by China to change Taiwan's future by force.

Biden's predecessor, Donald Trump, ramped up contact with and visits to Taiwan by US officials as relations between Washington and Beijing plunged over a host of issues.

US and China have 'big disagreements'

Despite cool relations recently, the US administration has made its intent clear to cooperate with Beijing on common causes such as climate change.

US climate envoy John Kerry will visit China later this week. He told CNN: "We have big disagreements with China on some key issues, absolutely. But climate has to stand alone."

Kerry's visit comes at a time of heightened tensions between Washington and Beijing on several other issues, such as China's treatment of its Uyghur Muslim minority and its crackdown on human rights in Hong Kong.

mna/aw (AFP, dpa)