US Ambassador to UN Will Visit Taiwan for 3-Day Trip

US Ambassador to UN Will Visit Taiwan for 3-Day Trip
U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Kelly Craft, speaks to reporters at the U.N. headquarters in New York City, on Sept. 12, 2019. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
Frank Fang

TAIPEI, Taiwan—U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Kelly Craft will visit Taiwan for three days next week, becoming the third senior U.S. official to visit the island in less than six months.

The United States Mission to the United Nations, in a statement released on Jan. 7, said that Craft will visit Taiwan’s capital Taipei from Jan. 13 to Jan. 15, for “meetings with senior Taiwan counterparts and members of the diplomatic community.”
“During her trip, the Ambassador will reinforce the U.S. government’s strong and ongoing support for Taiwan’s international space, in accord with the U.S. One-China policy that is guided by the Taiwan Relations Act, the three U.S.-PRC joint communiques, and the Six Assurances to Taiwan,” according to the statement.
Washington ended its diplomatic ties with Taipei in favor of Beijing in 1979 but it has maintained a robust relationship with the island based on the Taiwan Relations Act (TRA), which was signed into law by former President Jimmy Carter in April 1979.
The TRA authorizes the United States to provide the island with military equipment for its self-defense, and set up a nonprofit corporation called the American Institute in Taiwan, which is now the de-facto U.S. embassy on the island.

Taiwan’s self-defense is mainly directed at China, which views the self-ruled island as its territory and has threatened to bring the island under its fold with military actions.

In 1982, former President Ronald Reagan also made six security assurances to Taiwan, including that the United States pledges not to set a date for ending arms sales to the island, and that it would neither consult Beijing on any arms sales nor revise the TRA.

The U.S. Mission also stated that Craft will deliver remarks on Jan. 14 at the Institute of Diplomacy and International Affairs, which is an agency run by Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Her remarks will center on “Taiwan’s impressive contributions to the global community and the importance of Taiwan’s meaningful and expanded participation in international organizations,” according to the statement.

Craft’s trip to Taiwan was first announced by U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in a statement on Jan. 6.
On Jan. 7, Pompeo took to Twitter to explain how the Taiwan-U.S. relationship has warmed considerably under the Trump administration.

“We’ve stood by our friends in Taiwan. Over the past 3 years, the Trump Administration authorized more than $15 billion in arms sales to Taiwan. The Obama Administration? $14 billion dollars in sales over 8 years,” Pompeo wrote.

In November last year, the Trump administration approved the sale of a $600 billion package of advanced drones to Taiwan.
U.S. arms are vital to Taiwan in the face of escalating tension in the region. According to Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defense, Chinese jets violated Taiwan’s air space about 380 times in 2020 and have continued to carry out such incursions at least 6 times in 2021.

Outrage from Red China

Beijing has been outraged by Craft’s trip.

On Thursday, Tan Kefei, spokesperson of China’s Ministry of National Defense, said in a statement demanding the United States “stop all official exchange and military contacts with Taiwan.” His reasoning was that issues regarding Taiwan “are China’s internal affairs.”

The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has also opposed governments and international organizations from forming ties with the island because that might suggest that Taiwan is a de-facto nation-state. For instance, Beijing has blocked Taiwan from participating in the World Health Organization, despite the island’s enormous success in containing the spread of the CCP virus, commonly known as the novel coronavirus.
As of Jan. 7, Taiwan has a total of 822 COVID-19 cases, with seven deaths. The island has a population of about 24 million.

On Friday, Xavier Chang, a spokesperson for Taiwan’s Presidential Office, told local media that Craft’s trip will deepen the friendship between Taiwan and the United States, and have a positive effect on future cooperation between the two sides.

Last year, two senior U.S. officials visited Taiwan, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar and Under Secretary of State Keith Krach.