US diplomats arrive in Taipei after China warns Washington to keep out of Beijing’s internal affairs
On Wednesday afternoon, at 3pm local time (7am GMT), a delegation led by US President Joe Biden’s political ally, former Senator Chris Dodd, landed at Taipei’s Songshan Airport.
Also onboard the plane were former Deputy Secretaries of State Richard Armitage and James Steinberg. The delegation was met on the tarmac by Taiwanese Foreign Minister Joseph Wu, and the ceremony was broadcast on local TV.
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State news agency CNA has said Dodd will meet with high-level Taiwanese national security, foreign affairs, and defense officials during his visit, as well as President Tsai Ing-wen on April 15.
On Tuesday, the Chinese Foreign Ministry said it had lodged “stern representations” with Washington over the US’ recent decision to give its diplomats more freedom to meet with Taiwanese officials.
China considers Taiwan an integral part of its territory, and spokesman Zhao Lijian urged the US “not to play with fire on the Taiwan issue, immediately stop any form of US-Taiwan official contacts, cautiously and appropriately handle the matter.” China has repeatedly called on Washington not to send the “wrong messages” about Taiwanese independence.
On Friday, the US State Department elected to deepen diplomatic ties with officials in Taipei by “liberalizing guidance on contacts with Taiwan.”
The move comes amid simmering tensions in the South China Sea. On Monday, Taiwan accused the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) of its largest incursion into the nation’s air defense zone, with multiple military aircrafts buzzing its airspace, while the US has sent a warship through the Taiwan Strait and commenced military drills with the Philippines.