US, Taiwan Officials Conclude Substantial Talks on Security Issues
Senior officials from the United States and Taiwan have concluded discussions on a range of “security and diplomatic” issues, including the situation across the Taiwan Strait, tensions between the U.S. and China amid Russia’s invasion in Ukraine, high-level visits between Washington and Taipei, and Taiwan’s outreach to European nations that also face threats from Russia, a diplomatic source told VOA on Wednesday.
Tuesday’s substantial and high-level meetings followed a separate U.S.-Taiwan “policy talk” held at the American Institute in Taiwan’s headquarters in the United States on Jan. 6, 2023.
American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) is responsible for implementing U.S. policy toward Taiwan under the 1979 Taiwan Relations Act since the U.S. has no official relations with Taiwan. Washington switched its diplomatic recognition from Taipei to Beijing to counter then-Soviet Union in 1979.
White House deputy national security adviser Jon Finer, Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Indo-Pacific Security Affairs Ely Ratner, and other American officials met for several hours Tuesday with a delegation led by Taiwan’s national security adviser Wellington Koo and Taiwan’s Foreign Minister Joseph Wu.
'A robust, unofficial relationship'
U.S. officials said there is no change in Washington’s long-standing policy, while not confirming nor denying Tuesday’s talks.
“I don't have any meetings to speak to particularly, but what I can say is that we have, as you know, a robust, unofficial relationship with Taiwan, and we continue to engage with Taiwan under the auspices of AIT and TECRO, and in line with our long-standing policy,” said State Department spokesperson Ned Price on Wednesday.
TECRO refers to the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office, Taiwan's office in the United States.
“Regarding our very important but unofficial relationship with Taiwan, I will just underscore that there's been no change to America's one China policy based on the Taiwan Relations Act, the three joint communicates and the six assurances to Taiwan,” Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Daniel Kritenbrink told reporters during a Wednesday briefing. He was asked if a potential visit to the U.S. by Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen came up during Tuesday’s meeting.
Kritenbrink was among the U.S. officials who took part in Tuesday’s meetings. He told VOA the U.S. thinks it is in the interest of the international community and individual partners to have “a practical and functional relationship with Taiwan.”
“To prevent miscalculation and escalation in the Taiwan Strait, we are working to maintain open lines of communication with the PLA,” Ratner told VOA on Wednesday in the same phone briefing. He was referring to the Chinese military People’s Liberation Army.
The Pentagon’s Ratner added the U.S. is disappointed about China’s unwillingness to engage with senior U.S. military leaders for deconfliction talks.
“We have had working-level communications between the Defense Department and PRC [People’s Republic of China] counterparts both in Washington and in Beijing, but we have not had leader level communications despite U.S. requests,” said Ratner.
Concern about China-Russia relationship
Tuesday’s U.S.-Taiwan talks came amid rising tensions between the U.S. and China over a Chinese spy balloon that was shot down by the U.S. military, and because of China’s increasing support for Russia as its invasion of Ukraine nears one-year mark.
“The U.S. is very concerned of deepening ties between PRC [People’s Republic of China] and Russia, and a planned state visit by Chinese President Xi Jinping to Moscow in the spring,” said the diplomatic source.
Last Saturday, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken met face to face with top PRC diplomat Wang Yi in a meeting on the margins of Munich Security Conference. American officials said Wang “lashed out” during the “candid, direct, and sometimes confrontational” meeting that lasted about one hour.