Taiwan leader Tsai Ing-wen meets top US official after her election win

William Brent Christensen (right) meets with Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen, in the Presidential Office in Taiwan on Jan 12, 2020.
William Brent Christensen (right) meets with Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen, in the Presidential Office in Taiwan on Jan 12, 2020.PHOTO: TAIWAN PRESIDENTIAL OFFICE/AP

TAIPEI (AP, BLOOMBERG) - Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen sat down with the top American official in Taipei on Sunday (Jan 12), one day after her landslide victory over challenger Han Kuo-yu of the opposition Nationalist Party.

Brent Christensen, a US diplomat who is director of the American Institute in Taiwan, congratulated Tsai on her win and she thanked him for his support in a meeting at the presidential office loaded with symbolism.

Tsai has sought to deepen relations with the US as she pushes back against pressure from China, and the Trump administration has reciprocated.

The US does not have diplomatic relations with Taiwan under the "One China" policy but is legally bound to ensure that Taiwan can defend itself against threats.

Christensen is the de facto US ambassador to the self-governing island of 23 million people.

Other US officials also reiterated their partnership with Taiwan. 

US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo highlighted the “strong partnership” between the US and Taiwan as he congratulated Tsai. 

“The American people and the people of Taiwan are not just partners–we are members of the same community of democracies, bonded by our shared political, economic, and international values,” Pompeo said in a statement.

The press office of Republican Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, a prominent China hawk, tweeted that he “looks forward to strengthening the US- Taiwan relations in years to come.”

 
 
 
 

Todd Young, a fellow Republican Senator from Indiana, tweeted that “democracy has once again prevailed over Communism.”

Meanwhile, Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden advocated stronger relations with the island following Tsai's win.

"You are stronger because of your free and open society,” Biden, the former US vice president, said in a congratulatory tweet.

China considers Taiwan a part of its territory and opposes any official contact with the US as an interference in its domestic affairs.