On Saturday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced that he was lifting State Department restrictions on official US contacts with Taiwan. The announcement comes before a planned visit to Taiwan from the US ambassador to the UN, Kelly Craft.
In his announcement, Pompeo said all executive agencies should now consider any guidelines issued by the State Department on Taiwan relations to be “null and void.”
The US severed diplomatic ties with Taipei in 1979. Since then, the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) has served as the de facto US embassy in Taiwan, something Pompeo said will continue. “The executive branch‘s relations with Taiwan are to be handled by the non-profit AIT,” he said.
The Trump administration has taken several steps to increase ties with Taipei, including high-level visits. Ambassador Craft’s visit will begin on Wednesday, and she is expected to meet with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen. Craft will be the third high-level US official to visit Taiwan since August.
Taiwan welcomed Pompeo’s announcement. Taiwan’s Foreign Minister Joseph Wu called the move a “big thing” for US-Taiwan relations.