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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."

Go deeper: U.S.-China diplomacy is crumbling

Go deeper

Jan 19, 2021 - World

Special report: Trump's U.S.-China transformation

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

President Trump began his term by launching the trade war with China he had promised on the campaign trail. By mid-2020, however, Trump was no longer the public face of China policy-making as he became increasingly consumed with domestic troubles, giving his top aides carte blanche to pursue a cascade of tough-on-China policies.

Why it matters: Trump alone did not reshape the China relationship. But his trade war shattered global norms, paving the way for administration officials to pursue policies that just a few years earlier would have been unthinkable.

Updated 3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

U.S. sounds alarm on Ukraine

Conscripts line up at a Russian railway station yesterday before departing for Army service. Photo: Sergei Malgavko/TASS via Getty Images

The Biden administration is "deeply concerned" by new intelligence — detailed for Axios and other outlets — showing Russia stepping up preparations to invade Ukraine as soon as early 2022.

Why it matters: Most of this was known from public sources and satellite imagery, but the administration is sending a stronger signal by releasing specific details from the intelligence community.

CNN fires Chris Cuomo

Photo: Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for CNN

CNN said Saturday evening it has fired one of its star anchors, Chris Cuomo, following new revelations from a legal review made by the company into Cuomo's involvement in the management of his brother's sexual harassment scandal.

Why it matters: Saturday's firing speaks to how much pressure CNN was under by employees and critics to address Cuomo's behavior.