State Department Lifts Self-Imposed Restrictions on U.S.-Taiwan Relationship

Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen (C) poses for photographs with Secretary General of National Security Council Wellington Koo (L) and Defense Minister Yen Teh-fa (R) while inspecting the the military police headquarters in Taipei on May 26, 2020. (Photo by Sam Yeh / AFP) (Photo by SAM YEH/AFP via Getty Images)
SAM YEH/AFP via Getty Images

Secretary of State Michael Pompeo on Friday announced the lifting of all self-imposed restrictions on the U.S.-Taiwan relationship, a major reversal of American policy since the restrictions were put into place when the U.S. severed official ties with Taiwan and normalized relations with China in 1979.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement:

Taiwan is a vibrant democracy and reliable partner of the United States, and yet for several decades the State Department has created complex internal restrictions to regulate our diplomats, servicemembers, and other officials’ interactions with their Taiwanese counterparts. The United States government took these actions unilaterally, in an attempt to appease the Communist regime in Beijing. No more.

Today I am announcing that I am lifting all of these self-imposed restrictions. Executive branch agencies should consider all ‘contact guidelines’ regarding relations with Taiwan previously issued by the Department of State under authorities delegated to the Secretary of State to be null and void.

He added:

The United States government maintains relationships with unofficial partners around the world, and Taiwan is no exception. Our two democracies share common values of individual freedom, the rule of law, and a respect for human dignity. Today’s statement recognizes that the U.S.-Taiwan relationship need not, and should not, be shackled by self-imposed restrictions of our permanent bureaucracy.

Taiwan’s Foreign Minister Joseph Wu thanked Pompeo in a tweet:

I’m grateful to @SecPompeo @StateDept for lifting restrictions unnecessarily limiting our engagements these past years. I’m also thankful for strong bipartisan support in Congress for the #Taiwan Assurance Act, which advocates a review of prior guidelines. The closer partnership between #Taiwan & the #US is firmly based on our shared values, common interests & unshakeable belief in freedom & democracy. We’ll continue working in the months & years ahead to ensure Taiwan is & continues to be a force for good in the world.

The unofficial entity representing Taiwan in the U.S., the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office in the United States (TECRO), applauded the move.

It said in a statement:

The State Department’s actions to further Taiwan-U.S. engagements reflect the strength and depth of our relationship. We are grateful to the State Department – as well as members of Congress from both parties of passing the Taiwan Assurance Act, which had also encouraged this review. We look forward to broadening the Taiwan-U.S. partnership in the months and years ahead.

The Trump Administration has throughout its time in office boosted U.S. support to Taiwan via regular arm sales and senior-level visits to Taiwan by American officials to Taiwan.

China opposes closer ties between the U.S. and Taiwan. China considers Taiwan part of its territory and not a separate country, while Taiwan opposes reunification with China under the Chinese Communist Party regime.

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