China hits out at US mission to TaiwanTop News | Bloomberg 15 Apr 2021
China criticized the United States for sending a group of former officials to Taiwan, saying the move will only add to mounting tensions.
Two former deputy secretaries of state, Richard Armitage and James Steinberg, and former Senator Christopher Dodd arrived in Taipei yesterday afternoon as part of a White House delegation marking the 42nd anniversary of the Taiwan Relations Act, the US law governing Washington's unofficial relationship with Taipei.
A White House official called the visit a "personal signal" of President Joe Biden's commitment to Taiwan and its democracy.
The American visitors are scheduled meet with President Tsai Ing-wen and senior national security officials during their three-day stay.
"Such a meeting is not helpful for improving cross-strait ties and stabilizing the cross-strait region," said Ma Xiaoguang, a spokesman for the Beijing office that handles matters related to the island.
"This will only add to the tensions. Of course, such a meeting cannot change the fact that Taiwan is a part of China."
The delegation had to undergo multiple tests for Covid-19 before and after arriving at Taiwan and will have to maintain social distancing and wear masks at all times, the Taipei-based Central News Agency reported, citing Central Epidemic Command Center spokesperson Chuang Jen-hsiang.
He said it is the same "diplomatic bubble" that was used during US Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar's visit to Taiwan last August.
The visit comes after China escalated its military intimidation of the government in Taipei by sending 25 fighters, bombers and other planes into the southwest section of Taiwan's air defense identification zone on Monday.
The sortie was the largest China has sent close to Taiwan this year. The Taiwanese air force responded by sending patrol aircraft to the area and tracking the Chinese planes with missile defense systems, Taipei's Ministry of National Defense said in a statement.
The arrival of the American delegation is the first high-level contact between Washington and Taipei since the US State Department on Friday restored rules governing officials' contacts with Taiwan that were lifted near the end of the Trump administration.
The State Department did not detail ways in which the guidelines will be loosened. But two people familiar with the move said that US officials would be allowed to host Taiwanese officials at US federal buildings and meet Taiwanese counterparts at their government offices.
Meanwhile, US climate envoy John Kerry will visit China this week to discuss efforts to curb carbon emissions, the first visit to the country by a senior member of Biden's administration, according to two people familiar with the plans.
Kerry is expected to meet with his Chinese counterpart Xie Zhenhua,