A senior U.S. State Department official will arrive in Taiwan on Thursday for a three-day visit. Keith Krach, undersecretary of state for economic growth, energy and the environment, is heading to Taipei to attend a memorial service for late president Lee Teng-hui on Saturday.
The highest-ranking State Department official to visit in 40 years, in a further sign of Washington’s willingness to defy China and its campaign to isolate the self-ruled island.
The trip, the second high-ranking US visit in as many months, sparked an immediate rebuke from China, which opposes at any recognition of Taiwan and has mounted a decades-long policy of marginalizing the democratic island.
“The United States honours President Lee’s legacy by continuing our strong bonds with Taiwan and its vibrant democracy through shared political and economic values,” spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said in a statement announcing Krach’s trip.
Taiwan’s foreign ministry said Krach, accompanied by assistant secretary Robert Destro, would also discuss how to strengthen bilateral economic cooperation during his three-day visit.
Foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin told reporters on Thursday “China strongly opposes this.” he said the trip encourages the arrogant attitude of Taiwan independence separatist forces.
Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen will host a dinner for the US delegation on Friday.
“We look forward to more exchanges and discussions between Taiwan and the US to solidify the foundation for further collaborations, including economic cooperation, through undersecretary Krach’s visit,” her office said in a statement.
Now the relations between the US and China are at their worst at the moment, with the two sides clashing over a range of trade, military and security issues, as well as the coronavirus pandemic.