The visit comes in the midst of a new escalation between Taiwan and the mainland, which has enhanced its military posture around the island in recent days, staging war games nearby and sending a record 25 warplanes into Taiwan’s air defence identification zone.
A delegation of senior former US officials has arrived in Taiwan. Former US Senator Chris Dodd and former Deputy Secretaries of State Richard Armitage and James Steinberg arrived in an unmarked private jet that landed at Taipei’s downtown Songshan airport. The three were met off the aircraft by Taiwan Foreign Minister Joseph Wu and the top US diplomat in Taipei, Brent Christensen, in footage which was carried live on Taiwanese TV stations.
Earlier, Taiwan’s Deputy Foreign Minister of Tien Chung-kwang announced that the island authorities were preparing for a possible visit of former US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
China considers Taiwan to be a breakaway province that should be reunified with the mainland, and Chinese authorities often protest strongly if government officials or companies around the world call or treat Taiwan as a country.
Washington does not support the island’s independence, but the US and Taiwan are in an unofficial relationship according to a bilateral State Department fact sheet.
The previous US administration officially lifted its restrictions on official contact with Taiwan on 10 January, towards the end of the term, including prohibitions on using the terms “country” or “government”. The move drew harsh criticism from Beijing.