US President Joe Biden reaffirmed Washington’s commitment to the “One-China policy, guided by the Taiwan Relations Act, the three Joint Communiques, and the Six Assurances” during a virtual meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping in November 2021. Xi had told Biden that supporting Taiwan’s “independence” was akin to “playing with fire”.
Former US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Friday urged the Biden administration to take the “long-overdue” step of granting “diplomatic recognition” of Taiwan and declaring it a “free and sovereign country”.
Pompeo is on a visit to the self-governed East Asian island between 2 and 5 March, a trip announced by his host, the Taipei-based Prospect Foundation, last month.
“This isn’t about Taiwan’s future independence, it’s about recognising an unmistakable already existent reality. That reality is, as many of your past and present leaders have made clear, there’s no need for Taiwan to declare independence because it’s already an independent country”, Pompeo said in a series of tweets.
“Its name is the Republic of China (Taiwan). The people and government of the United States should simply recognise this political, diplomatic, and sovereignty reality. The Taiwanese people deserve the world’s respect for a free, democratic, and sovereign country”, added Pompeo, who served as US secretary of state (April 2018-January 2021) under former President Donald Trump.
The remarks made by the ex-chief of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) hold significance as they come a day after he was awarded the “Order of Brilliant Star with Special Grand Cordon”, Taiwan’s top presidential honour, by President Tsai Ing-wen.
Previously, only former US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld had been given this honour.
“Secretary Pompeo is not only a long-term supporter of Taiwan’s international participation; he has also facilitated multiple breakthroughs in Taiwan-US relations”, Tsai said at the ceremony to bestow the honour upon Pompeo.
“During his term, restrictions on contact between US and Taiwan government officials were lifted, arms sales were normalised, and mutual visits by higher-level US and Taiwanese officials were made possible. These measures all helped deepen bilateral interaction and cooperation”, Tsai, the leader of Taipei’s secessionist Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), stated.
In January 2020, Pompeo scrapped the “Taiwan Guidelines”, which, among other things, had prohibited meetings between US and Taiwanese officials at the White House or the State Department and barred any American official from referring to the Chinese province as a “country”.
Pompeo, along with 27 other high-profile Americans, was slapped with sanctions by Beijing on 20 January 2021, for promoting a “series of crazy moves”. The Chinese Foreign Ministry said the moves had “gravely interfered in China’s internal affairs, undermined China’s interests, offended the Chinese people, and seriously disrupted China-US relations”.
Pompeo’s current visit was described as “shameless and futile” by Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin at a regular briefing on 3 March.
Pompeo, a potential US presidential contender in 2024, justified his moves during his time in office, while speaking at the awards ceremony.
He remarked that it wasn’t “provocative” to say that one demands freedom.
“I think we need only watch what’s taking place in Europe today to see that this continues to demand deep, concerted, focused leadership from those of us who cherish freedom”, stated Pompeo, in reference to Russia’s ongoing military operation in Ukraine.
“Indeed, to walk away from these things, [is to] demonstrate the absence of resolve”, he also stated.
Pompeo’s visit follows a trip by a senior American delegation sent by US President Joe Biden and led by former Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral (retired) Michael Mullen to “reassure” Taipei of Washington’s support for the island.
Taiwan has been governed separately from mainland China since the end of the Chinese civil war in 1949. Beijing considers the island to be its province, while Taiwan, which formally calls itself the Republic of China (ROC), maintains political and economic relations with several other nations.