Delegation sent by Biden to arrive in Taiwan Wednesday

04/14/2021 11:43 AM
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Joe Biden (left) and Chris Dodd. AP photo
Joe Biden (left) and Chris Dodd. AP photo

Taipei, April 14 (CNA) An unofficial delegation dispatched by U.S. President Joe Biden will arrive in Taiwan on Wednesday as a "personal sign" of the president's commitment to the island's security and democracy, Reuters reported on Tuesday.

The delegation, consisting of former U.S. Senator Chris Dodd and former deputy secretaries of state Richard Armitage and James Steinberg, will touch down at Taipei's Songshan Airport on Wednesday afternoon, the report said.

Citing an unnamed senior official in the Biden administration, Reuters said the "unofficial" delegation will mark the 42nd anniversary of the Taiwan Relations Act, which serves as the foundation of U.S.-Taiwan relations in the absence of formal diplomatic ties.

No schedule for the visit has been released, but the delegation is expected to meet with senior Taiwanese officials and will follow "a long-standing bipartisan tradition of U.S. administrations sending high-level, unofficial delegations to Taiwan," the source said.

The visit will be the first by a U.S. delegation since Biden took office in January and is intended as a "personal sign" from the president, the official said.

The choice of the three individuals in the delegation, who are all close to Biden and known as friends of Taiwan, "sends an important signal about the U.S. commitment to Taiwan and its democracy," the official said.

According to Taiwan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA), the delegation will arrive at 2:40 p.m. Wednesday.

President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) will host the visitors at 10 a.m. Thursday at the Presidential Office Building, as well as at her official residence that evening, according to a statement by the Presidential Office.

MOFA, meanwhile, said in a statement that the visit is an expression of the United States' friendship and strong commitment to Taiwan.

Chris Dodd, who is leading the delegation, represented Connecticut in the U.S. Senate from 1981-2011, serving many of those years alongside Biden, who has referred to Dodd as his "single best friend."

Richard Armitage, who served as deputy secretary of state in the George W. Bush administration, met with Tsai during a visit to Taiwan in 2019 with a delegation from the Project 2049 Institute think tank.

Jim Steinberg, who served as deputy secretary of state under Barack Obama, took part last October in a virtual policy forum sponsored by Taiwan's Mainland Affairs Council.

The U.S. delegation's visit comes amid a period of increased tensions with China over Taiwan, which Beijing regards as a part of its territory.

Last week, the U.S. State Department issued new guidelines allowing officials to interact more freely with Taiwanese counterparts, a move which it said reflected the sides' deepening ties.

Meanwhile, the number of Chinese warplanes flying in the vicinity of Taiwan has also increased in the past few days, following reports last week that China's Liaoning aircraft carrier group was holding routine exercises in waters close to Taiwan.

(By Stacy Hsu, Chung Yu-chun and Matthew Mazzetta)

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