US to send an unofficial delegation as Taiwan’s president is sworn in. It will test ties with China

WASHINGTON — The White House will send an unofficial delegation to Taiwan this weekend for the inauguration of the island’s democratically elected president, the Biden administration announced Wednesday, a move sure to upset China but unlikely to provoke an outsized response from Beijing will call for if the two countries try. stabilize relationships.

A senior White House official said the move is in line with the long-standing US practice of sending the delegation – which includes two former senior officials and a scholar – to the inauguration ceremony on Monday. Lai Ching-te of the Democratic Progressive Party will take office as Tsai Ing-wen of the same party.

Beijing, which considers Taiwan part of Chinese territory and vows to take the island by force if necessary to achieve unification, views Lai as a supporter of Taiwan’s independence and has long opposed any official contact between Washington and Taipei.

“How the US handles the new Taiwanese authorities on May 20 and beyond will affect the situation between the two countries and also China-US relations in the future,” said Liu Pengyu, spokesman for the Chinese embassy in Washington. Tuesday before the announcement, referring to the Taiwan Strait.

β€œSo we urge the US to take action on President Biden’s commitment not to support Taiwan’s independence,” he said.

The U.S. delegation will be in Taipei “to represent the American people,” the White House official told reporters on condition of anonymity to discuss details of the trip before it was announced. The official called Taiwan β€œa model for democracy, not only in the region but also globally.”

Despite the lack of formal relations with Taiwan, the US is the island’s strongest ally and is obligated under a 1979 law to help Taiwan protect itself from invasion.

It is unclear how Beijing would respond to an unofficial U.S. delegation at Taiwan’s inauguration, but “Beijing will be the provocateur if it decides to respond with additional military pressure or coercion,” the U.S. official said, adding that the administration did not predict how China will respond. would respond.

Beijing has repeatedly warned Washington not to interfere in Taiwan’s affairs, which it says are a core interest for China because it is a matter of sovereignty and territorial integrity. Beijing views Washington’s support for Taiwan as provocative.

The US insists that any disagreements be resolved peacefully and opposes any unilateral change to the status quo by either side. β€œWe do not support Taiwan’s independence,” the government official said. β€œWe support the dialogue between the two countries.”

Taiwan is at the top of the agenda in US-China relations, which have soured over issues ranging from trade, cybersecurity and human rights to espionage. In its competition with China, the Biden administration has engaged in “intensive diplomacy” to prevent tensions from spiraling out of control.

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and Secretary of State Antony Blinken recently visited China in the administration’s latest effort to keep communications open and minimize misunderstandings.

Shortly after Lai was elected in January, President Joe Biden sent an unofficial delegation to Taipei to meet Lai, prompting protests from Beijing. Members of Congress have also traveled to Taiwan to meet the newly elected president. Plans are in the works for a congressional delegation to visit Taiwan shortly after the inauguration.

Beijing reiterated its claim to Taiwan immediately after Lai was elected, saying that β€œthe basic fact that Taiwan is part of China will not change.” Days later, Nauru, a small country in the Pacific Ocean, cut its diplomatic ties with Taiwan, which is now recognized by China. Twelve governments, including the Vatican.

Beijing has since criticized the passage of a US destroyer through the Taiwan Strait. The U.S. Navy’s 7th Fleet said the USS Halsey “conducted a routine transit of the Taiwan Strait on May 8 through waters where freedom of navigation and overflight on the high seas applies in accordance with international law.”

Senior Navy Captain Li Xi accused the US of publicly hyping the ship’s passage and said the command had organized naval and air forces to monitor the ship’s passage.

In an effort to avoid global recognition of Taiwan, Beijing said this week that it would not agree to Taiwan’s participation in this year’s World Health Assembly, an annual gathering of the World Health Organization that could boost Taiwan’s visibility on the world stage .

β€œThe Chinese region of Taiwan, unless it receives approval from the central government, has no basis, reason or right to participate in the World Health Assembly,” said Wang Wenbin, speaking on behalf of the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Wang also said Taiwan’s Democratic Progressive Party, which came to power in 2016, is “devastated by the separatist position” of Taiwan’s independence and that Beijing has “sufficient reason and a solid legal basis” to exclude Taiwan of the global organization.

Here’s the bipartisan delegation the White House is sending to Taiwan this weekend:

– Laura Rosenberger, president of the American Institute in Taiwan, a private nonprofit organization created under a 1979 law to manage America’s unofficial relations with Taiwan.

– Brian Deese, former director of the National Economic Council in the Biden administration.

– Richard Armitage, former deputy secretary of state under President George W. Bush.

– Richard Bush, a non-resident senior fellow at the Brookings Institution who previously chaired the American Institute in Taiwan.