Government officials yesterday welcomed US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s announcement lifting restrictions governing official US contacts with Taiwan, with many calling it the latest example of bipartisan commitment to deepening Taiwan-US ties.
In a statement issued on Saturday, Pompeo instructed executive agencies to consider “all ‘contact guidelines’ regarding relations with Taiwan ... to be null and void.”
“The United States government took these actions unilaterally, in an attempt to appease the Communist regime in Beijing. No more,” the statement reads. “The US-Taiwan relationship need not, and should not, be shackled by self-imposed restrictions of our permanent bureaucracy.”
Photo: Ritchie B. Tongo, EPA-EFE
In Washington, the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office in the US said that the decision reflects the “strength and depth” of the Taiwan-US relationship.
“Decades of discrimination, removed. A huge day in our bilateral relationship. I will cherish every opportunity,” Representative to the US Hsiao Bi-khim (蕭美琴) wrote on Twitter.
Minister of Foreign Affairs Joseph Wu (吳釗燮) also took to Twitter to express gratitude toward Pompeo and the US Department of State for their continued efforts to lift restrictions on bilateral engagement.
He also thanked the US Congress for its “strong bipartisan support” in passing the Taiwan Assurance Act of 2019, which instructed the executive branch to review its restrictions on high-level exchanges.
Presidential Office spokesman Xavier Chang (張惇涵) said that the decision reflects the two nations’ robust partnership.
The government is grateful not only for Saturday’s decision, but also for the many Americans who have continually helped to strengthen political, economic, security and other ties between the two nations, Chang said.
“Building on this solid foundation, we will continue striving for bipartisan US support and to deepen the cooperative partnership between Taiwan and the US,” he added.
Opposition parties were cautiously optimistic about the decision, with the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) saying that the next US administration’s reaction “will be key.”
The KMT views the progress of official relations positively and would work hard to assist the nation in promoting exchanges with the US, as long as they are in line with the Constitution and people’s expectations, it said in a statement.
In addition to symbolic actions, there should also be more specific, substantive and continuous enhancement of bilateral relations, it added.
“Most Taiwanese are pro-US. The KMT is the same,” it said. “Whether Pompeo’s announcement can continue into the [US president-elect Joe] Biden administration will be a key indicator.”
While it would be good to further improve the level of mutual visits, such advancement should continue alongside substantial and reciprocal policy, it added.
The Taiwan People’s Party (TPP) also tempered expectations, while urging President Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) administration to take a more active role in pushing for national interests and international participation.
Although happy about the advancement in US ties, the TPP asked whether the Biden administration would maintain the momentum.
For example, the Tsai administration must keep striving to ensure the gains acquired from permitting the importation of US pork containing ractopamine, it said.
Former representative to the US Chen Chien-jen (程建人) was also circumspect, saying that while the change is certainly good for Taiwan, the level at which the Biden administration would be able to enact these policy changes remains to be seen.
Additional reporting by Sherry Hsiao,
Hsieh Chun-lin and Huang Hsin-po
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