Taiwan welcomed the announcement of a visit to the island by US Ambassador to the UN Kelly Craft. The visit will take place from January 13th to the 15th and will be one of the Trump administration’s last swipes at Beijing.
A spokesperson for Taiwan’s Presidential Office said on Friday that the trip is a “symbol of the solid friendship between Taiwan and the US, and will positively help and deepen the US-Taiwan partnership.”
As part of its hardline China policies, the Trump administration has taken steps to boost US-Taiwan ties, including unprecedented high-level visits. In August, US Health Secretary visited the island, making him the highest-level US official to do so since Washington severed diplomatic ties with Taipei in 1979.
Azar’s visit was followed by one from US Undersecretary for Economic Affairs Keith Krach, who traveled to the island in September. These high-level visits were made possible by the Taiwan Travel Act, which President Trump signed into law in 2018.
Besides increasing diplomatic ties, President Trump continued the US tradition of selling military equipment to Taiwan, pushing forward billions of dollars in weapons packages. Packed into the massive $2.3 trillion spending bill the president signed at the end of December was the 2020 Taiwan Assurance Act that reaffirms the 1979 Taiwan Relations Act by reiterating the US commitment to arming Taipei.
President Trump set the tone for his administration’s Taiwan policy way back in December 2016, when then-President-elect Trump publicly received a congratulatory phone call from Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen. It was the first time since 1979 that a US president or president-elect spoke with a president of Taiwan.
The incoming Biden administration is expected to continue building closer ties with Taiwan. Anthony Blinken, Biden’s nominee for secretary of state, favors stronger US-Taiwan relations and received a phone call from the de facto Taiwanese ambassador in the US after Biden’s victory in November.
One area where Taiwan seeks more cooperation with the US is trade. Taiwan is expected to pursue a trade deal with the Biden administration, an idea many lawmakers in Washington are proponents of.