U.S. State Department official to visit Taiwan soon
Washington, Sept. 26 (CNA) Sandra Oudkirk, a senior official in the U.S. State Department, said Thursday that she will visit Taiwan in two weeks' time in a show of support, after Taiwan's recent loss of two diplomatic allies to China.
"I'm the U.S. senior official for APEC, so in my APEC capacity I'll be traveling to Taiwan to consult with them on APEC related issues," Oudkirk said in a joint hearing of the U.S. House committees on Natural Resources and Foreign Affairs.
Oudkirk serves in the State Department's Bureau of East Asian & Pacific Affairs as U.S. Senior Official for APEC and Deputy Assistant Secretary for Australia, New Zealand, and the Pacific Islands.
She was responding to questions from Congresswoman Ann Wagner, who asked whether Oudkirk had "considered traveling to Taipei, in accordance with the Taiwan Travel Act, to demonstrate American support for Taiwan in the wake of the Solomon Islands and Kiribati's decision to break with Taiwan."
Oudkirk said she was "very disappointed" at the decision last week by the two Pacific island nations to switch political recognition from Taipei to Beijing, leaving Taiwan with only 15 diplomatic allies.
"Taiwan is a democratic success story, a reliable partner, and a force for good in the world," she said. "As Vice President Mike Pence said, America will always believe that Taiwan's embrace of democracy is an example to be internationally supported."
Wagner, meanwhile, said she was pleased to hear about Oudkirk's upcoming visit to Taiwan.
"We need to make a strong statement about this," Wagner said. "We cannot have China bullying our friend and ally in the region."
During the hearing, Oudkirk said the U.S. has a deep and abiding interest in peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait. Maintaining the status quo with respect to diplomatic ties is a key part of that, she said.
Oudkirk said she believes that the status quo situation enables peace and prosperity for decades and countries that choose China in the hope of providing economic benefits "will ultimately be disappointed."
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