China fury as Pompeo ratchets up the pressure with Taiwan move

The outgoing US Secretary of State warns that the days of ‘appeasing’ Beijing are over

Mike Pompeo has signaled that the days of “appeasing” China’s ruling Communist Party are over after announcing closer ties to Taiwan.

The decision by the US Secretary of State was made just days before incoming President Joe Biden moves into the White House, further boxing in his new administration.

In a statement, Pompeo made it clear that for several decades the State Department had created complex internal restrictions on interactions with the democratic island that is considered a renegade province by Beijing.

“The United States government took these actions unilaterally in an attempt to appease the Communist regime in Beijing. Today, I am announcing that I am lifting all of these self-imposed restrictions,” he said.

The facts:

  • The old rules are now “null and void.”
  • Sino-American relations have rapidly deteriorated during the past two years.
  • Taiwan has become the new Cold War battleground for President Donald Trump’s White House.
  • Diplomatic relations have strengthened under Trump with a series of US high-level visits.
  • A US$8 billion defense contract has also been inked between Washington and Taipei as China increases its military presence in the Taiwan Strait.

What was said: “The United States government maintains relationships with unofficial partners around the world, and Taiwan is no exception … Today’s statement recognizes that the US-Taiwan relationship need not, and should not, be shackled by self-imposed restrictions of our permanent bureaucracy,” Pompeo said.

Reaction to the news: “The Chinese people’s resolve to defend our sovereignty and territorial integrity is unshakable and we will not permit any person or force to stop the process of China’s reunification. Any actions which harm China’s core interests will be met with a firm counterattack and will not succeed,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian told a media briefing.

China Factor comment: The timing could not be more controversial with Biden due to take over as president in 10 days’ time. Taiwan has become a major flashpoint between Washington and Beijing with Xi pledging to reunite the island with China by force if necessary. “The closer partnership between Taiwan and the US is firmly based on our shared values, common interests and unshakeable belief in freedom and democracy,” Taiwan Foreign Minister Joseph Wu said on Twitter. Still, Biden’s administration will be furious about the timing. “[They] will rightly be unhappy that a policy decision like this was made in the final days of the Trump administration,” Bonnie Glaser, of the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, said as reported by Reuters.