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Updated Jan 10, 2024, 8:22pm EST
securityEast Asia

White House to send former top officials to Taiwan after election

Taiwan
REUTERS/Ann Wang
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The Biden administration plans to send an unofficial delegation of former U.S. officials to Taiwan after this month’s consequential presidential election, a senior Biden administration official said.

The Financial Times reported that the delegation would be led by James Steinberg, a former Democratic deputy secretary of state, and Stephen Hadley, a former Republican national security adviser, and that the trip would take place on Saturday. The senior administration official, however, declined to divulge specifics about the participants or the timing, saying the details were still being worked out.

The official described such visits as routine and indicated the former officials would meet with both the president-elect and the other candidates.

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“Given our unofficial relationship with Taiwan, we often send these high-level unofficial delegations of former government officials to Taipei. We have a decades-long tradition of doing so. This is nothing new,” the official said.

China signaled opposition to the plans. The Chinese embassy in Washington told the Financial Times Beijing “firmly opposes the US having any form of official contact with the Taiwan region” and called on the U.S. to “stop sending wrong signals to ‘Taiwan independence’ separatist forces and refrain from interfering in elections in the Taiwan region in any form.”

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While some believe that such a delegation risks heightening tensions with Beijing, others said those concerns are overblown.

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“I don’t think it is going to meaningfully change the trajectory of U.S.-China relations,” David Sacks, a fellow for Asia studies at the Council on Foreign Relations, told Semafor, adding that it wouldn’t lead to a response like Beijing’s reaction to then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s 2022 visit to the island.

Biden has already sent two delegations to Taipei in an effort to reaffirm Washington’s support for the self-governing island. The senior administration official noted that neither trip was “viewed as escalatory by the PRC,” referring to the People’s Republic of China

Congress has also been keen to show its support for Taiwan, with House Speaker Mike Johnson meeting with Taipei’s new U.S. representative, Alexander Yui, on Tuesday.

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