Taiwan Welcomes US 'Gesture of Support'

Bipartisan team of former defense officials to offer assurances during Ukraine fight
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 28, 2022 4:29 PM CST
Taiwan Welcomes US 'Gesture of Support'
Somaliland Foreign Minister Essa Kayd, left, is greeted by Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen in Taipei, Taiwan, on Feb. 9.   (Taiwan Presidential Office via AP)

(Newser) – An American team of former defense and security officials is headed to Taipei to demonstrate that, despite the attention-consuming battle in Ukraine, the US has not forgotten Taiwan. The government has raised the alert level on the island out of concern that China, which claims Taiwan, will make a move across the Taiwan Strait while all eyes are on Eastern Europe. Nine Chinese aircraft breached Taiwan's air identification zone last week, Reuters reports. The delegation will be led by retired Adm. Mike Mullen, who chaired the Joint Chiefs of Staff under Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama.

Taiwan's US representative to the US tweeted, "welcoming this gesture of strong bipartisan support for Taiwan," per the Hill. A senior US official said the makeup of the delegation "sends an important signal about the bipartisan US commitment to Taiwan. The team will include Meghan O'Sullivan, a former deputy national security adviser under Bush, and Michele Flournoy, a former undersecretary of defense under Obama. They're scheduled to arrive Tuesday afternoon and meet with President Tsai Ing-wen and Defense Minister Chiu Kuo-cheng before leaving Wednesday evening.

Mike Pompeo, who was secretary of state under former President Donald Trump, also plans a go to Taiwan this week. He's scheduled to give a speech at a think tank and meet with the foreign minister. Saying he's a private citizen, White House officials have declined to comment on Pompeo's trip. The US does not recognize Taiwan diplomatically but is obligated to provide the means for it to defend itself. Some members of Congress, including Democrats, have called for ending this "strategic ambiguity" and a clarification about the extent of that obligation, per Reuters. (Read more Taiwan stories.)

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