Meeting of Ambassadors, Beijing discourages any organized contacts with Taiwan, but Washington has expanded its outreach significantly in recent months. US cabinet member and health leader Alex Azar visited last month to highlight Taiwan’s highly acclaimed attempts to combat Covid-19.
An unusual Meeting of Ambassadors between James Lee, his senior official in New York, and Washington’s envoy to the UN, Kelly Clark, was also confirmed by Taiwan’s foreign ministry the day before. After Tsai’s election in 2016, Beijing has raised political, economic and military pressure on Taiwan, which opposes its opinion that the island is part of “one China.”
Taiwan has registered a sharp rise in Chinese jet incursions into its air defense distinguishing zone in recent weeks. Taiwan’s ministry of defense said two Chinese anti-submarine planes crossed the border one day earlier and were warned to evacuate. Washington is the island’s leading source of weaponry but has traditionally been conservative in keeping official communication with it.
Trump has more tightly supported Taiwan as a way to strike back on authoritarian Beijing, particularly as he is seeking reelection in November. Any large weapons deals were also authorized by him, which his previous predecessors were more hesitant to do. So far, though, the US has not strayed from Taiwan’s unwritten red line, as it has not sent senior officials whose primary responsibility is international relations.
Lee, who died at the age of 97 in July, was a leading figure in the development of Taiwan, helping the once-authoritarian island transform to a thriving democracy, and later angering China by calling for its recognition as a sovereign republic. The Chinese state media called him “the godfather of Taiwanese secessionism” when news of his death broke.
As Taiwan wants a trade agreement with the United States, Krach, with his economic focus, will visit. Last month, Taiwan eliminated a big obstacle by lightening security controls on US beef and pork — welcome news for farmers, a key Trump constituency, as the election approaches.