China has protested over a historic meeting between US ambassador to the United Nations Kelly Craft and the head of Taiwan’s de facto consulate in New York, as Washington ramps up support for Taipei despite Beijing’s objections.
Craft held a lunch meeting on Wednesday with James Lee Kuang-jang, director of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office in New York and head of Taiwan’s UN Affairs Task Force in the city.
It was the first such meeting between a US envoy to the UN and a top Taiwanese official, and they discussed ways to boost Taiwan’s engagement within the United Nations.
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“Obviously, we really are pushing for them to be back into the UN, or have a role in the UN health assembly,” Craft told Associated Press. “If the US doesn’t stand up to China, then who’s going to when it comes to Taiwan, and not only Taiwan, but Hong Kong and others?”
The meeting is another sign of growing relations between the US and Taiwan, whose presence on the world stage has been increasingly squeezed by Beijing, including at international bodies such as the UN’s World Health Organisation. It also took place one day before Keith Krach – the US undersecretary of state for economic growth, energy and the environment – arrived in Taiwan, the second high-profile US visit to the self-ruled island in the past two months.
But their warming ties have irked Beijing, which claims sovereignty over Taiwan and has threatened to bring the island under its rule, by force if necessary.
Geng Shuang, deputy permanent representative of China to the UN, said on Thursday that Beijing opposed official exchanges between the US and Taiwan, and that Craft’s meeting with Lee had violated the one-China principle.
“The Chinese side urges the US to fully recognise the high sensitivity of the Taiwan issue ... and to carefully handle Taiwan-related issues as to not create new challenges for China-US relations and the two countries’ cooperation at the United Nations,” he said in a statement.
China also carried out military exercises near the Taiwan Strait on Friday, in a clear warning during Krach’s visit to Taiwan.
Analysts say that US President Donald Trump’s administration has boosted support to Taiwan as part of a series of moves to needle Beijing ahead of his re-election bid in November. Ties between Washington and Beijing have plunged in recent months over issues on trade, technology, the coronavirus pandemic, ideology, and strategic influence.
Shi Yinhong, a professor of international relations at Renmin University in Beijing, warned that China-US relations would likely further deteriorate ahead of the election, noting the early departure from China of US ambassador Terry Branstad.
“The risk cannot be ruled out that Trump may take further steps to seriously challenge the one-China policy,” he said.
Jia Qingguo, a professor of international relations at Peking University, said increasing US actions on Taiwan were due to the growing anti-China sentiment in Congress and were a means for Trump to divert attention to China issues to boost his trailing election position.
“China knows what Trump is trying to do before the election, so China will not take any drastic measures,” he said. “But if the Trump administration continues to take strong actions, such as docking their warships in Taiwan, or sending [US Secretary of State Mike] Pompeo or [US Secretary of Defence Mark] Esper to visit Taiwan, this would cause China-US relations to rapidly deteriorate, which carries a certain degree of risk.”
More from South China Morning Post:
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- Beijing warns it will make ‘necessary response’ to US diplomat’s Taiwan visit
- China-US tension: America pushes major weapons sales to Taiwan, putting pressure on Beijing, say insiders
This article China protests after US envoy to UN meets Taiwanese official in New York first appeared on South China Morning Post