Jan 9, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Pompeo lifts "self-imposed restrictions" on U.S.-Taiwan relationship

Mike Pompeo
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Photo: Tami Chappell/AFP via Getty Images

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced Saturday that he was lifting the "self-imposed restrictions" on the U.S.-Taiwan relationship.

The big picture: Pompeo's announcement comes as Kelly Craft, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, prepares to visit Taiwan next week to "reinforce the U.S. government’s strong and ongoing support for Taiwan’s international space.” The news of Craft's expected visit has angered China, which said the U.S. would pay a "heavy price for its wrong action."

  • Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar's trip to Taiwan last August was at the time the highest-level visit by a U.S. cabinet official to Taiwan since 1979.
  • Undersecretary of State Keith Krach visited the self-ruled island in September.
  • The trips have heightened already deteriorating tensions between the U.S. and China, which considers the island part of Chinese territory. Taiwan's status is one of the most sensitive issues between the Washington and Beijing.

What he's saying: "Taiwan is a vibrant democracy and reliable partner of the United States, and yet for several decades the State Department has created complex internal restrictions to regulate our diplomats, servicemembers, and other officials’ interactions with their Taiwanese counterparts," Pompeo said.

  • "The United States government took these actions unilaterally, in an attempt to appease the Communist regime in Beijing. No more."
  • "Today I am announcing that I am lifting all of these self-imposed restrictions.  Executive branch agencies should consider all 'contact guidelines' regarding relations with Taiwan previously issued by the Department of State under authorities delegated to the Secretary of State to be null and void."
  • "The United States government maintains relationships with unofficial partners around the world, and Taiwan is no exception.
  • "Our two democracies share common values of individual freedom, the rule of law, and a respect for human dignity. Today’s statement recognizes that the U.S.-Taiwan relationship need not, and should not, be shackled by self-imposed restrictions of our permanent bureaucracy."

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