US Navy Admiral Visits Taiwan, Stoking Tensions With Beijing

The Visit is seen as part of the Trump administration's last-minute escalations with China

The US sent a high-level US military official to visit Taiwan

On Sunday, media outlets reported that a US Navy admiral arrived in Taiwan. The visit drew sharp condemnation from China and is seen as part of the Trump administration’s last-minute efforts to ramp up pressure on Beijing.

Reuters first identified the visiting military officer as Rear Admiral Michael Studeman, the director of intelligence at US Indo-Pacific Command, which is based in Hawaii. In a vague statement, Taiwan’s foreign ministry confirmed that the island received a visit from a US official but did not mention Studeman by name.

“There are frequent interactions between Taiwan and the United States, and we welcome the visit by the US official, but as this itinerary has not been made public, the foreign ministry has no further explanation or comment on his visit based on mutual trust between the two sides,” Joanne Ou, spokeswoman for Taiwan’s foreign ministry, said on Monday.

The Trump administration is expected to increase pressure on China until Joe Biden is inaugurated on January 20th. The idea is to make it politically untenable for Biden to reverse Trump’s China policies. A Beijing-based Chinese military insider speaking to The South China Morning Post viewed the admiral’s visit to Taiwan as part of the Trump administration’s escalations.

“The Trump administration wants to make risk-taking moves,” the insider told the Post. “The undercover visit made by Rear Admiral Michael Studeman to Taiwan was a government behavior more than a military decision. Beijing doesn’t need to take any strong response.”

President Trump has increased ties with Taiwan during his time in office. In 2018, President Trump signed the Taiwan Travel Act into law, which paved the way for high-level US visits to the island that took place this year.

In August, US Health Secretary Alex Azar visited Taiwan, making him the highest-level US official to travel to the island since Washington severed diplomatic ties with Taipei in 1979. Azar’s visit was followed by one from US Undersecretary for Economic Affairs Keith Krach.

Since 1979, the US has sold weapons to Taiwan to discourage China from invading the island, a practice that is lucrative for US weapons makers. The US is Taiwan’s top weapons supplier, and the island is a leading customer. In the 2019 fiscal year, Taiwan requested more weapons from the US than any other country. President Trump has continued this tradition, and his administration recently pushed forward multiple weapons packages for Taipei.

Author: Dave DeCamp

Dave DeCamp is the news editor of, follow him on Twitter @decampdave.