Official visit reaffirms U.S support for Taiwan: Washington

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Alex Wong (黃之瀚), deputy assistant secretary in the U.S. State Department's Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs, arrived in Taiwan Tuesday for a three-day visit. (Photo courtesy of CNA)

Washington, March 20 (CNA) A visit to Taiwan by a deputy assistant secretary of the U.S. State Department reaffirmed Washington’s long term support for Taipei, the department said Tuesday.

Alex Wong (黃之瀚), deputy assistant secretary in the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs, arrived in Taiwan Tuesday for a three-day visit.

“His visit will reaffirm long-standing U.S. policy toward and support for Taiwan,” Grace Choi, a spokeswoman for the bureau, said in an email reply to questions raised by CNA about Wong’s visit.

Wong is the first U.S. official to visit Taiwan since U.S. President Donald Trump signed the Taiwan Travel Act last week, a Sense of Congress Resolution which encourages the U.S. government to allow high level meetings and visits between Taiwan and U.S. government officials.

According to Choi, Wong will deliver remarks at the annual year-end banquet scheduled by the American Chamber of Commerce in Taipei for Wednesday.

In addition, Choi said, Wong will also hold discussions with Taiwan authorities on a wide range of matters important to U.S-Taiwan relations, but she did not deliberate.

Choi was also mum when asked by CNA whether Wong will convey any message to President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) from the U.S. government.

Wong, who took office in December 2017, is the first deputy assistant secretary from the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs appointed since Trump took office in 2017.

The local media reported recently that Wong is in charge of Trump’s “Free and Open Indo-Pacific” strategy.

The American Institute in Taiwan (AIT), the de facto U.S. embassy in Taiwan due to a lack of official ties between Taipei and Washington, made a similar statement Tuesday, saying Wong will meet with Taiwanese authorities to discuss matters important to U.S-Taiwan ties.

However, AIT said Wong’s visit has nothing to do with Trump’s signing of the Taiwan Travel Act, since the visit has been planned for some time.

On Monday, the U.S. State Department issued a statement, reiterating its commitment to the one-China policy in response to Beijing’s protest over the passing of the Taiwan Travel Act.

The Taiwan Travel Act urges a change in the practice that has barred high-ranking Taiwanese officials from direct diplomatic engagement in Washington and senior U.S. officials from visiting Taiwan since the U.S. severed diplomatic ties with Taiwan in 1979.

Although the act is in the form of a non-binding resolution, it still triggered strong opposition from Beijing, which said it seriously violates the one-China principle and the three joint communiques that govern China-U.S. relations, and “sent a gravely wrong signal to Taiwan independence separatists.”

(By Chiang Chin-yeh and Frances Huang)