President Biden is sending an unofficial delegation of former US officials to Taiwan as China is warning Washington against strengthening ties with Taipei. A White House official told Reuters that the delegation is a “personal signal” from Biden to show his support for Taiwan.
The delegation includes former Senator Chris Dodd and former State Department officials Richard Armitage and James Steinberg. The delegation is expected to arrive in Taiwan on Wednesday. The trip follows a change in policy from the State Department that altered guidelines to encourage more contacts between US and Taiwanese officials.
On Tuesday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian reacted to the new policy. He said China urges the US “not to play with fire on the Taiwan issue, immediately stop any form of US-Taiwan official contacts, cautiously and appropriately handle the matter, and not send wrong signals to Taiwan independence forces so as not to subversively influence and damage Sino-US relations and peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait.”
By boosting ties with Taiwan to counter China, President Biden is picking up where the Trump administration left off. President Trump started sending high-level officials to the island last year, angering Beijing. Last August, then-Health Secretary Alex Azar made the trip, making him the highest-level US official to do so since 1979 when Washington cut formal ties with Taipei.
Besides diplomatic relations with Taiwan, the Biden administration continues military provocations in the region. Last week, the guided-missile destroyer USS John McCain steamed through the Taiwan Strait, marking the fourth such passage under Biden.