On Friday, the State Department announced a new policy to “encourage” more contacts between US and Taiwanese officials as the Biden administration is looking to deepen ties with Taipei as part of its strategy to counter China, picking up where the Trump administration left off.
“The Department of State has issued new guidelines for US government interaction with Taiwan counterparts to encourage US government engagement with Taiwan that reflects our deepening unofficial relationship,” State Department spokesman Ned Price said in a statement.
Price said the new guidelines were issued following a review that was required by the Taiwan Assurance Act, which was tucked inside the massive $2.3 trillion spending bill that allocated funds for the 2021 fiscal year that President Trump signed in December. Besides calling for more contacts between US and Taiwanese officials, the Taiwan Assurance Act also restated the US commitment to arming Taiwan.
The Trump administration took unprecedented steps to boost ties with Taipei, including sending high-level US officials to visit the island. Last August, then-Health Secretary Alex Azar visited Taiwan, making him the highest-level US official to do so since 1979 when Washington severed formal diplomatic ties with Taipei.
The Biden administration is continuing the high-level contacts. At the end of March, the US ambassador to Palau accompanied the country’s president on a trip to Taiwan, marking the first time an official US envoy visited the island since 1979.
President Biden is also continuing the provocative policy of sailing warships through the Taiwan Strait. On Wednesday, the guided-missile destroyer USS John McCain steamed through the sensitive waterway, marking the fourth such passage under Biden.