The American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) yesterday confirmed that US Ambassador to the UN Kelly Craft would visit Taiwan from Wednesday to Friday next week, and would give a speech on Taiwan’s contributions to the global community.
“During her trip, the ambassador will reinforce the US government’s strong and ongoing support for Taiwan’s international space, in accord with the US’ one-China policy that is guided by the Taiwan Relations Act, the three US-PRC [People’s Republic of China] joint communiques and the six assurances to Taiwan,” the AIT said in a statement.
“Ambassador Craft will also deliver remarks on Jan. 14 at the Institute of Diplomacy and International Affairs on Taiwan’s impressive contributions to the global community and the importance of Taiwan’s meaningful and expanded participation in international organizations,” it added.
Craft’s planned visit was first announced by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Wednesday, although US president-elect Joe Biden has nominated Linda Thomas-Greenfield to replace Craft when the new administration is sworn in on Jan. 20.
The US had notified the Ministry of Foreign Affairs late last month about the visit, but Pompeo made the announcement ahead of schedule, local media reported.
The Presidential Office and the ministry yesterday again extended a welcome to Craft’s delegation.
The government welcomes Craft, who has been a vocal supporter of Taiwan, and her visit would fulfill the US’ commitment to the Taiwan Travel Act, Presidential Office spokesman Xavier Chang (張惇涵) said yesterday.
The Taiwan Travel Act, signed into law by US President Donald Trump in 2018, encourages visits between the US and Taiwan at all levels.
Craft would be the first incumbent US ambassador to the UN visiting the nation since the Republic of China left the UN in 1971, the ministry said in a statement, adding that Craft would meet President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) and Minister of Foreign Affairs Joseph Wu (吳釗燮) during her visit.
Asked about the disease prevention measures in place for Craft’s delegation, Central Epidemic Command Center spokesman Chuang Jen-hsiang (莊人祥) said the measures would be similar to those applied to earlier US visits, including those of US Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar, who visited Taiwan in August last year.
Azar’s delegation took a US Air Force charter flight to Taipei International Airport (Songshan airport), where they received virus tests without undergoing isolation.
Former minister of foreign affairs and representative to the US Chen Chien-jen (程建人) said that Craft’s visit was good for Taiwan, but might only be symbolical, given that the Trump administration would be leaving the White House in 11 days.
The Tsai administration has been catering to the Trump administration’s needs, such as accepting many arms sales and lifting restrictions over US pork containing ractopamine, but the government should remember that the US always prioritizes its own interests, Chen said.
Former US presidents Richard Nixon and Jimmy Carter, in efforts to warm up to Beijing, caught Taiwan off-guard by giving short notices when they made changes to the Taiwan-US relationship, he said.
Nevertheless, the US might not change its friendliness toward Taiwan and remain vigilant on China, although a Biden administration is expected to take a different approach, he added.
Taiwan could have already been annexed by China without the US’ help, but given China’s rise as a world power, the government should resume some dialogue with Beijing for the benefit of Taiwanese, he said.
Academia Sinica Institute of European and American Studies research fellow Lin Cheng-yi (林正義) said that while Taiwan welcomes Craft’s delegation, it certainly hopes future US administrations would make it a regular policy to visit the nation, rather than an isolated case.
There are other ways to improve bilateral relations in more concrete ways, such as renaming the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office in the US to reflect its true function as an embassy, Lin said.
The Trump administration has pushed the limits of Taiwan-US relations by setting many new precedents, which would make it easier for Biden to take steps friendly to Taiwan, National Taiwan University associate professor of politics Chen Shih-min (陳世民) said.
Additional reporting by CNA
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