U.S. urged not to sacrifice Taiwan to improve ties with China

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President Donald Trump walks from Marine One to board Air Force One, Monday, Oct. 16, 2017, in Andrews Air Force Base, Md., en route Greenville, S.C., for a fundraiser for South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster. A Taiwanese official expressed the hope on Tuesday that the United States will not use Taiwan as a bargaining chip or sacrifice ties with Taipei to strengthen relations with Beijing when U.S. President Donald Trump visits China in November. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

TAIPEI (CNA) – A Taiwanese official expressed the hope on Tuesday that the United States will not use Taiwan as a bargaining chip or sacrifice ties with Taipei to strengthen relations with Beijing when U.S. President Donald Trump visits China in November.

Trump will make his first trip to China next month and will meet Chinese President Xi Jinping for the third time.

Taiwan has always paid close attention to high-level U.S.-China talks and has already begun discussing Trump’s visit to Asia with the U.S. side, said Chen Li-kuo (陳立國), the head of the Department of North American Affairs under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

In terms of Washington’s Asia strategy, Taiwan is trying to get a better understand Trump’s regional security policy, such as its policy toward North Korea, according to Chen.

Taiwan is also conveying its hopes to the U.S. side that there will be no surprises in bilateral relations as Washington moves to develop its ties with Beijing.

The Foreign Ministry will be keeping a close watch on the Trump-Xi summit to see whether a new joint communique or a statement will be issued and will do everything it can to ensure that Taiwan’s interests are not affected, Chen said.

The official was also asked about a comment on Monday by Rupert Hammond-Chambers, president of the U.S.-Taiwan Business Council, that defense security cooperation between the U.S. and Taiwan has been hindered because top positions in the Trump administration remain vacant.

Chen said that although many positions in the Trump administration remain unfilled, that has not affected communications between the U.S. and Taiwan.

He noted that the U.S. decision to approve the sale of a US$1.4 billion arms package to Taiwan just six months after Trump took office showed the U.S. government’s intention to fulfill its commitments to Taiwan under the Taiwan Relations Act (TRA) and the Six Assurances.

Chen also expressed the hope that Washington will continue to provide Taiwan with defensive weapons based on the TRA, which along with the Six Assurances has guided Taiwan-U.S. relations since diplomatic ties were severed in 1979. 

By Liu Lee-jung and Evelyn Kao