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U.S. issues new guidelines for interactions with Taiwan officials

ROC Central News Agency

04/10/2021 01:52 PM

Washington, April 9 (CNA) The U.S. State Department said Friday it has issued new guidelines for government contacts with Taiwan, which it said will encourage closer engagement and reflect the two sides' deepening bilateral relationship.

The new guidelines, which were circulated within government agencies but not released to the public, reportedly allow U.S. officials to hold regular meetings with Taiwanese counterparts, including at Taiwan's representative offices in the U.S.

The policy will also allow officials to participate in meetings at the Twin Oaks, the former residence of Taiwanese ambassadors to the U.S. which is now used for official functions, though they will not be able to attend celebrations of Double Ten National Day and other Taiwanese holidays.

"This guidance underscores Taiwan is a vibrant democracy and an important security and economic partner that is also a force for good in the international community," State Department spokesman Ned Price said in a press statement announcing the changes.

According to Price, the new rules "liberalize guidance on contacts with Taiwan" and clarify how the Executive Branch is to implement the United States' one-China policy, "which is guided by the Taiwan Relations Act, the three Joint Communiques, and the Six Assurances."

The issuance of new formal guidelines on how U.S. officials interact with Taiwan comes after an order issued by former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in January, which lifted nearly all restrictions on contacts between the side. However, it is unclear how the two policies will differ in substance.

A diplomatic source told CNA on Friday that while both Pompeo and Secretary of State Antony Blinken favor expanding contacts with Taiwan, some U.S. officials had expressed uncertainty about Pompeo's decision to remove all guidance on the subject.

After taking office, Blinken decided that there should be written guidelines on the issue, and used the revision process as a means of definitively scrapping some of the restrictions that had hampered U.S.-Taiwan interactions in the past, the official said.

In response to the move, Taiwan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) said it welcomed the guidelines as "the turning of a new page" in the Taiwan-U.S. relationship, and that it expected them to lead to closer engagement.

Taiwan's representative to the U.S. Hsiao Bi-khim (蕭美琴) said in a Twitter post that she welcomed the "encouragement" from the U.S. and was looking forward to "new opportunities to work together to deepen the relationship."

The issuance of the new guidelines followed a review of the bilateral relationship mandated under the Taiwan Assurance Act, Price said, referring to legislation in support of Taiwan that was signed into law in December.

(By Chiang Chin-yeh and Matthew Mazzetta)

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