New US guidelines encourage more interaction with Taiwan amid tensions with China

The US State Department has issued new guidelines making it easier for American diplomats to meet with officials from Taiwan. The move may seriously clash with Beijing’s “One-China” policy of sovereignty over the island territory.

Released on Friday, the guidelines “liberalize guidance on contacts with Taiwan, consistent with our unofficial relations,” the State Department said. Their goal is “to encourage US government engagement” with the self-governed island.

Foggy Bottom described Taiwan as “an important security and economic partner” for the US and “a force for good in the international community.”

The guidelines come almost a month after SS Secretary of State Antony Blinken called Taiwan a “country” during congressional testimony delivered on March 10. The remark broke with longstanding US policy not to refer to the island in that way.

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The move is certain to further increase tensions with Beijing, which views Taiwan as part of its own sovereign territory in line with the “One China” principle. China has slammed Washington’s contacts with Taipei as interference in its internal affairs, warning that the island’s search for independence could end in a war. 

Washington has recognized the government in Beijing as the one legitimate authority in China since 1979, but officially also seeks to keep “strong, unofficial relations with Taiwan,” ruled by descendants of the nationalists who fled defeat in the civil war on the mainland in 1949. The US remains the top arms supplier to the authorities in Taipei. 

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