The United States on Wednesday suddenly called off the scheduled Taiwan trip of the Ambassador to the United Nations, Kelly Craft.
Amid recent security threats, the Donald Trump administration announced that all official engagements have been called off as part of its transition efforts to help US President-elect Joe Biden.
Craft’s trip, earlier tackled by China, was due to begin the three-day trip on January 13 and was scheduled to meet the island’s president Tsai Ing-wen.
However, the timing attracted criticisms from many both home and abroad, who believed it shouldn’t be coming a week to Biden’s inauguration and the recent arrest of 53 democracy activists in Hong Kong.
Others expressed concerns that it would set in motion a bad atmosphere for the incoming administration in terms of the relationship with China, which has been greatly tense under Trump.
China earlier threatened that the U.S would pay a “heavy price” for the visit to Taiwan. Beijing considers the democratic island of 23 million part of its territory in a conflict that dates back to the late 1940s.
However, the Taiwanese government in a statement on Wednesday accepted the new development. Spokeswoman of the Taiwan Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Joanne Ou said that Taiwan “regrets” Craft would be unable to visit but welcomed her to “visit at any point in the future”.
But for the change of plans, Craft’s trip would have been the first by a serving US ambassador to the UN.
Last year, Taiwan received both Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar and Under Secretary of State Keith Krach.
Both visits were condemned by China which stepped up military manoeuvres in the area while the men were in Taiwan. Despite that, the State Department this week disclosed intentions to lift “self-imposed restrictions on interactions between State Department staff and their Taiwanese counterparts.”
“The United States government took these actions unilaterally, in an attempt to appease the Communist regime in Beijing. No more,” outgoing US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had announced earlier in the week.
“The United States government maintains relationships with unofficial partners around the world, and Taiwan is no exception.”
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