Senior officials from the United States and Taiwan have concluded discussions on a range of “security and diplomatic” issues.
They included the situation across the Taiwan Strait, tensions between the US and China amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, as well as high-level visits between Washington and Taipei.
Another issue discussed was Taiwan’s outreach to European nations that also face threats from Russia, a diplomatic source told Voice of America earlier this week.
The substantial US-Taiwan high-level meetings followed consultations between the two hosted by American Institute in Taiwan on January 6.
American Institute in Taiwan or AIT is responsible for implementing US policy under the 1979 Taiwan Relations Act since Washington has no official relations with the democratic island.
The US switched its diplomatic recognition from Taipei to Beijing to counter the then-Soviet Union in 1979.
White House Deputy National Security Adviser Jon Finer, Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Indo-Pacific Security Affairs Ely Ratner, and other American officials met for several hours with a delegation led by Taiwan’s National Security Adviser Wellington Koo and Taiwan’s Foreign Minister Joseph Wu.
American officials made it clear that there was no change in Washington’s long-standing policy, while not confirming nor denying Tuesday’s talks.
“I don’t have any meetings to speak to particularly, but what I can say is that we have, as you know, a robust, unofficial relationship with Taiwan, and we continue to engage with Taiwan under the auspices of AIT and TECRO, and in line with our long-standing policy,” State Department spokesperson Ned Price said on Wednesday.
TECRO refers to the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office in the US.
“Regarding our very important but unofficial relationship with Taiwan, I will just underscore that there’s been no change to America’s one China policy based on the Taiwan Relations Act, the three joint communicates and the six assurances to Taiwan,” Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Daniel Kritenbrink said in a media briefing.
He was asked if a potential visit to the US by Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen came up during the discussions. Kritenbrink was among the US officials who took part in the meetings.
He told VOA the US thinks it is in the interest of the international community and individual partners to have “a practical and functional relationship with Taiwan.”
“To prevent miscalculation and escalation in the Taiwan Strait, we are working to maintain open lines of communication with the PLA,” Ratner told VOA in the same phone briefing. He was referring to the Chinese military People’s Liberation Army.
The Pentagon’s Ratner added the US is disappointed about China’s unwillingness to engage with senior US military leaders for talks.
“We have had working-level communications between the Defense Department and PRC [People’s Republic of China] counterparts both in Washington and in Beijing, but we have not had leader-level communications despite US requests,” he said.
The Taiwan talks came amid rising tensions between the US and China over a Chinese spy balloon that was shot down by the American military and Beijing’s increasing support for Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine.
“The US is very concerned [about] deepening ties between PRC [People’s Republic of China] and Russia, and a planned state visit by Chinese President Xi Jinping to Moscow in the spring,” said the diplomatic source.
Last week, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken met face-to-face with top Chinese diplomat Wang Yi in a meeting on the margins of the Munich Security Conference. American officials said Wang “lashed out” during the “candid, direct, and sometimes confrontational” meeting that lasted about one hour.
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