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US foreign policy

US eases restrictions on diplomats, encourages interaction with Taiwan

Senior Senate aides have told Al Arabiya English that their meetings with Taiwanese diplomats had increased in recent months as Taiwan grows more concerned over China’s military actions around the island.

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The United States has relaxed its restrictions on US officials meeting with their Taiwanese counterparts, the State Department announced Friday, as tensions between Washington and China escalate.

Friday’s move was made to “encourage US government engagement with Taiwan that reflects our deepening unofficial relationship,” State Department Spokesman Ned Price said in a statement.

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According to the State Department website, the US and Taiwan “enjoy a robust unofficial relationship.” Under the “One China” policy, the US recognizes that the People’s Republic of China is the sole legal government of China and that Taiwan is part of China.

But as tensions escalated under former President Donald Trump, then-Secretary of State Mike Pompeo ordered the removal of guidelines that restricted US officials and diplomats from engaging with Taiwanese officials.

Since taking office, President Joe Biden has vowed to be assertive and take a tougher stance against China over its human rights abuses and unfair economic practices.

The statement on Friday underscored that Taiwan was “a vibrant democracy and an important security and economic partner that is also a force for good in the international community.”

“These new guidelines liberalize guidance on contacts with Taiwan, consistent with our unofficial relations,” Price added.

Last month, Biden officials met with Chinese counterparts in Anchorage, Alaska for their first talks since Biden became president.

Reporters covering the meetings recorded videos of back-and-forth exchanges between the officials at the start of the scheduled talks. Both sides accused each other of human rights abuses and double standards.

Senior Senate aides have told Al Arabiya English that their meetings with Taiwanese diplomats had increased in recent months as Taiwan grows more concerned over China’s military actions around the island.

China’s threats to invade Taiwan have been met with strong international opposition, led by the United States.

Read more: China’s ‘incursions’ may lead to ‘unwanted hostilities’: Philippine president’s aide