U.S. tweet signals level of engagement with Taiwan seen under Trump

02/11/2021 01:40 PM
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Photo taken from twitter.com/USAsiaPacific
Photo taken from twitter.com/USAsiaPacific

Washington, Feb. 10 (CNA) A meeting between Taiwan's top envoy to the United States and a senior State Department official on Wednesday and its public announcement may indicate continuing contacts with Taiwan at a high level under President Joe Biden's administration.

The meeting was confirmed by the State Department's Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs, which tweeted a photo of Hsiao Bi-khim (蕭美琴), Taiwan's representative to Washington, and Sung Kim, acting assistant secretary of the bureau.

"The U.S. is deepening ties with Taiwan, a leading democracy and important economic and security partner," the tweet said.

It was the first formal meeting between Taiwanese and U.S. officials publicly announced under the new Biden administration.

By sharing the meeting between Hsiao and Kim publicly, it is believed that the new U.S. government intends to continue high levels of engagement with Taiwan, as was seen under former President Donald Trump.

Trump presided over a very public campaign to have more open diplomatic contacts with Taiwan despite the lack of formal ties between the two sides, but it has been unclear whether the Biden government was willing to maintain the same level of engagement.

Though neither side confirmed where the meeting was held, the background of the photo in the U.S. tweet indicated it took place at the State Department, and Hsiao, in response to a question on a Line group, hinted that was the case, saying the "photo speaks for itself."

If so, it would be the first time that Hsiao has visited the State Department building since current President Biden was inaugurated on Jan. 20.

Past restrictions on U.S.-Taiwan engagement did not allow meetings between Taiwan's representatives and State Department officials to take place at the State Department building, though the rule was relaxed under Trump.

In July 2020, Hsiao's predecessor Stanley Kao (高碩泰) met with then Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs David Stilwell at the State Department building.

Shortly after Hsiao assumed the post in late July, she also attended a meeting there with Stilwell, and later met there with Pamela Pryor, a senior official at the State Department's Bureau of International Organization Affairs, on Jan. 16, 2021.

Neither side disclosed specifics of what was discussed at Wednesday's meeting. On her Twitter account, Hsiao said she had a good meeting with Kim and his team, and they discussed "many issues of mutual interest, reflecting our strong and broad partnership."

(By Chiang Yi-ching and Stacy Hsu)

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