US embassy in Netherlands hosts Taiwan envoy after curbs lifted

TAIPEI • The US ambassador in the Netherlands has hosted Taiwan's representative to the country at the US embassy, in the first publicly announced visit to a US government office since Secretary of State Mike Pompeo lifted restrictions on interactions.

Mr Pompeo announced the change last Saturday, which scraps curbs on meetings with Taiwanese officials, in the waning days of Republican President Donald Trump's administration before Democrat Joe Biden assumes the presidency next Wednesday.

China condemned the move, saying nobody could prevent China's "reunification". Beijing views the democratic island as its own territory, with no right to state-to-state ties.

The US ambassador to the Netherlands, Mr Pete Hoekstra, said on Twitter that Taiwan's representative to the country, Ms Chen Hsing-hsing, had met him at the embassy on Monday.

"Made some history today: Welcomed Taiwan Representative Chen to our Embassy," he wrote, including pictures of the two of them in the embassy building.

"Glad that our @StateDept colleagues around the world will now be able to host our friends from this vibrant democracy on our Embassy grounds."

Ms Chen tweeted that she was extremely pleased and honoured to visit the embassy, saying it was "the very first time in my diplomatic career".

The United States, like most countries, has no formal diplomatic ties with Taiwan, and previous interactions between officials from both sides were limited to non-official venues such as hotels.

China has been angered by stepped-up US support for Taiwan under the Trump administration, including arms sales and visits to Taipei by senior US officials.

The US ambassador to the United Nations, Ms Kelly Craft, is due to arrive in Taiwan today for a three-day visit, which has also angered Beijing.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 13, 2021, with the headline 'US embassy in Netherlands hosts Taiwan envoy after curbs lifted'. Print Edition | Subscribe