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Sunday, January 17, 2021

U.S. lifts restrictions for Taiwanese diplomats

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U.S. lifts restrictions for Taiwanese diplomats
U.S. lifts restrictions for Taiwanese diplomats

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Saturday said he was lifting restrictions on contacts between U.S. officials and their Taiwanese counterparts, a move likely to anger China and increase tensions between Beijing and Washington in the waning days of President Donald Trump's presidency.

Bryan Wood reports.

In the final days of the U.S. Trump administration, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo lifted diplomatic restrictions on Taiwan.

In a statement on Saturday, Pompeo said that Taiwanese diplomats will no longer need to follow decades-old rules that have limited their contact with American counterparts… For example, Taiwanese officials were excluded from entering the U.S. State Department for meetings and instead met at hotels, but after the weekend, Pompeo said: "No more.

Today I am announcing that I am lifting all of these self-imposed restrictions." Taiwan's de facto ambassador in Washington, Bi-khim Hsiao tweeted in response: "A huge day in our bilateral relationship." The move will likely increase tension with Beijing just before President-elect Joe Biden takes office on January 20.

China claims the separately ruled and democratic territory of Taiwan, and also calls it its most senstive issue in its ties with the U.S. Although there are no official ties between Taiwan and the United States, the Trump administration has ramped up backing for the island territory with arms sales and the TAIPEI Act, meant to bolster Taiwan's international recognition.

An official from Biden's transition team said the new administration will continue to support "a peaceful resolution of cross-strait issues consistent with the wishes and best interests of the people of Taiwan."

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