With US-China relations rapidly deteriorating, Taiwan has served as a stage for the US to stoke tensions with Beijing. On Saturday, the de facto US ambassador in Taiwan took part in a ceremony marking the 62nd anniversary of a military clash between Taipei and mainland China.
The ceremony took place on Kinmen island, an island close to mainland China, only a few miles east of Xiamen, a major Chinese city. In August 1958, China started a military offensive on Kinmen against the Kuomintang Party in what became known as the Second Taiwan Strait Crisis. The US Navy came to the aid of the Kuomintang in this battle.
This is the first time a US official took part in a ceremony commemorating the battle. Brent Christensen served as Washington’s representative for the event. Christensen heads the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT), which serves as the de facto US embassy.
“Commemorations such as these remind us that today’s US-Taiwan security cooperation builds on a long and proud history that exemplifies the phrase ‘Real Friends, Real Progress,” the AIT said in a statement.
The AIT was created after the diplomatic shift in 1979 when the US adopted Beijing’s “One-China” policy and officially ended diplomatic relations with Taiwan. China considers Taiwan to be part of its own territory, and the US formally goes along with that line, but Taipei receives support from the US in other ways, including arms sales.
Earlier this month, US Health Secretary Alex Azar visited Taiwan, making him the highest-level US official to visit the island since 1979. After the visit, Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-Wen said the relationship between the US and Taiwan has “never been closer.”