US Undersecretary for Economic Affairs Keith Krach arrived in Taiwan on Thursday. Krach’s arrival comes just over a month after US Health Secretary Alex Azar visited Taiwan. Azar is the highest-level US official to visit the island since Washington broke formal relations with Taipei in 1979.
Krach is expected to meet with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen. Krach will represent the US at a ceremony honoring former Taiwanese President Lee Teng-hui on Saturday. The visit was condemned by Beijing, who considers Taiwan to be Chinese territory.
Ahead of the visit, Taiwanese Foreign Minister Joseph Wu warned of the threat Taipei faces from Beijing, citing activity in the South China Sea and Hong Kong. “We feel that like-minded countries or fellow democracies need to pay more attention to this area and come to each other’s help so that China’s expansionist motivation can be deterred,” Wu said.
Beijing has been running drills in the South China Sea and flying military aircraft near Taiwan in response to US activity in the region. Since hostilities increased between the US and China in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, the US military has been much more active in the area and has held massive drills in the South China Sea.
The Trump administration has taken steps to strengthen ties between Washington and Taipei, going all the way back to December 2016, when then-president-elect Trump accepted a phone call from President Tsai, breaking US diplomatic norms.
In March 2018, President Trump signed the US-Taiwan travel bill, which paved the way for the high-level visits from Azar and Krach. Reuters published a report on Wednesday that said the US is preparing a major arms sale to Taiwan that could consist of up to seven types of weapons systems.