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Deputy U.S. assistant secretary of state visits Taiwan

2018/03/20 18:14:52

Image taken from U.S. State Department's official website

Taipei, March 20 (CNA) Alex Wong (黃之瀚), deputy assistant secretary in the U.S. State Department's Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs, arrived Tuesday for a three-day visit and will join President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) at a banquet Wednesday.

Wong is the first U.S. official to visit Taiwan after U.S. President Donald Trump signed the Taiwan Travel Act into law Saturday, which promotes meetings and visits between high-ranking American and Taiwanese government officials.

American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) spokeswoman Sonia Urbom, however, noted that the official's visit is not related to Trump's signing.

"Wong's visit is not occurring in response to the Taiwan Travel Act. Wong's trip has been planned for some time," Urbom said.

AIT represents U.S. interests in Taiwan in the absence of official diplomatic ties.

According to an AIT statement, aside from speaking at the annual American Chamber of Commerce in Taipei's year-end banquet, Wong will also hold discussions with Taiwanese authorities on a wide range of matters important to U.S.-Taiwan relations.

According to a statement from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Wong, who took office in December 2017, is the first deputy assistant secretary in the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs appointed since Trump took office.

One source told local media that Wong is in charge of Trump's "Free and Open Indo-Pacific" strategy.

The new initiative introduced by the Trump administration in November 2017, encompasses an area stretching from the U.S. West Coast to Japan, down through Southeast Asia to Australia, and west to India.

Prior to his appointment, Wong was the foreign policy advisor and general counsel to Senator Tom Cotton, and also served as the foreign and legal policy director for the Romney-Ryan 2012 presidential campaign.

From 2007 to 2009, he served as Iraq rule of law advisor for the U.S. Department of State, according to AIT.

(By Joseph Yeh)