Turning point? Taiwan's foreign minister makes rare visit to U.S. capital area

Taiwan's Foreign Minister Joseph Wu

Taiwan's top diplomat Joseph Wu made a surprise visit to Washington on Tuesday to meet with senior US officials. This marks a turning point as it is the first foreign minister from the island to visit the Washington area since the US switched diplomatic recognition from Taipei to Beijing in 1979, local reports said.

Wu and Wellington Koo, secretary general of Taiwan's National Security Council, held closed-door talks with senior U.S. officials including Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman and Daniel Kritenbrink, the State Department's top diplomat for East Asia, according to The Liberty Times and Taiwan's Central News Agency.

The agency said the meeting was held at the Washington headquarters of the American Institute in Taiwan located in Virginia and lasted about seven hours.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said at a press conference Wednesday that Beijing resolutely opposes "any form of U.S.-Taiwan official exchanges" and has lodged solemn representations with Washington over the Taiwan delegation's visit.

Beijing urges Washington to abide by the one-China principle, "earnestly implement the promise made by U.S. leaders not to support Taiwan independence" and stop creating new tensions in the Taiwan Strait, the spokesman said.

Since the severance of diplomatic ties, the United States has restricted visits to Washington and its vicinity by Taiwan's president, vice president, premier, foreign minister and defense minister.

Wu's trip to the capital area follows the 2018 enactment of the Taiwan Travel Act in the United States, which promotes mutual visits of senior officials between the country and the self-ruled democratic island.

The Taiwan paper reported that the senior officials may have discussed U.S. arms sales to the island during the meeting held amid growing concern over China's territorial ambitions with regard to the self-ruled territory.

The U.S. participants also included White House Indo-Pacific coordinator Kurt Campbell, Ely Ratner, assistant secretary of defense for Indo-Pacific security affairs, and Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for China Michael Chase, who visited Taiwan last week, according to the reports.

Communist-led China and Taiwan have been governed separately since they split in 1949 due to a civil war. Beijing views the island as a renegade province to be unified with the mainland, by force if necessary.

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