Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Saturday that the United States is ending decades-old restrictions governing official contacts with Taiwan, a move likely increase tensions between Beijing and Washington in the waning days of President Donald Trump’s presidency. In a statement, Pompeo said that for several decades the State Department had created complex internal restrictions on interactions with Taiwanese counterparts by American diplomats, service members and other officials.
“The United States government took these actions unilaterally, in an attempt to appease the Communist regime in Beijing,” Pompeo said in a statement. “Today I am announcing that I am lifting all of these self-imposed restrictions,” he added. He said the “complex internal restrictions” on contacts with Taipei by diplomats, service members and others had been imposed “in an attempt to appease the Communist regime in Beijing.”
“The United States government maintains relationships with unofficial partners around the world, and Taiwan is no exception. … Today’s statement recognizes that the US-Taiwan relationship need not, and should not, be shackled by self-imposed restrictions of our permanent bureaucracy,” Pompeo said.
The declaration may be more symbolic than substantive in effect, but it nonetheless appears certain to anger China, which sees Taiwan as its own territory. It comes in the final weeks of the Donald Trump administration, and at a time of already heightened tensions between Beijing and both Washington and Taipei.