US urged not to sacrifice Taiwan to improve ties with China

Local residents walk past a monitor showing a broadcast from Beijing of Chinese leader Xi Jinping speaking at the 19th Communist Party Congress, in Taipei on Oct 18, 2017. PHOTO: AFP

TAIPEI (CHINA POST/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - A Taiwanese official has expressed hope that the United States will not use Taiwan as a bargaining chip or sacrifice ties with Taipei to strengthen relations with Beijing when President Donald Trump visits China in November.

Mr 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 US-China talks and has already begun discussing Mr Trump's visit to Asia with the US side, said Mr Chen Li-kuo, 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 understanding of Mr Trump's regional security policy, such as its policy towards North Korea, according to Mr Chen.

Taiwan is also conveying its hopes to the US 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. It will do everything it can to ensure that Taiwan's interests are not affected, Mr Chen said.

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

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

He noted that the US decision to approve the sale of a US$1.4 billion (S$1.9 billion) arms package to Taiwan just six months after Mr Trump took office showed the US government's intention to fulfil its commitments to Taiwan under the Taiwan Relations Act (TRA) and the Six Assurances.

Mr 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-US relations since diplomatic ties were severed in 1979.

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.