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US envoy begins second recent high-level visit to Taiwan

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TAIPEI, Taiwan (AP) US Under Secretary of State Keith Krach arrived in Taiwan on Thursday for the second visit by a senior US official in two months, prompting a stern warning and a threat of possible retaliation from the China.

Beijing regards Taiwan as its own and opposes all official contacts between other countries and the autonomous island.

Crash arrived at an Air Force base in the capital Taipei for a three-day visit. Wearing a face mask, he banged his elbows in greeting with Taiwanese Deputy Foreign Minister Harry Ho-Jen Tseng.

Krach, the highest State Department official to visit the island in decades, is due to meet with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen and other senior officials, the island’s foreign ministry said.

Visit by Krach, who is undersecretary for economic growth, energy and the environment, follows a high-level trip in August by US Health Secretary Alex Azar, the top cabinet official American to visit since the United States changed formal relations from Taiwan. in China in 1979.

However, the United States has maintained unofficial relations with Taiwan since the official diplomatic hiatus and is the island’s most important ally and supplier of defense equipment.

Ahead of Krachs ‘arrival, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Kelly Craft had lunch with Taiwan’s top official in New York on Wednesday, a meeting she called historic and a new milestone in the administrations’ campaign. Trump to strengthen relations with Taiwan.

Craft said his lunch with James KJ Lee, director of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Bureau in New York, was the first meeting between a senior Taiwan official and a US ambassador to the United Nations since 1971, when China’s headquarters in the UN was adopted. from Taipei to Beijing.

I am looking to do the right thing on behalf of my president, and I think he has sought to strengthen and deepen this bilateral relationship with Taiwan and I want to continue this on behalf of the administration, he said. she told The Associated Press.

In Taiwan, Krach is due to attend a banquet hosted by Tsai on Friday and discuss the creation of a new economic and trade dialogue, according to Taiwans de facto ambassador to the United States, Hsiao Bi-khim. He will also attend a memorial service for former President Lee Teng-hui, who led the islands’ transition to democracy and passed away at 97 in July.

The Krachs visit and Crafts lunch with Lee are sure to exacerbate growing tensions between Washington and Beijing over the coronavirus pandemic, trade, technology, Hong Kong and the South China Sea.

China condemned the visit on Thursday and warned it could fight back.

In a daily briefing Thursday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said the Krachs visit violated US commitments to China and bolstered Taiwan’s separatist independence forces and undermined them. Sino-US relations as well as peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait, adding that Beijing has filed formal complaints. with Washington on the matter.

We urge the United States to fully recognize the high sensitivity of the Taiwan issue … to immediately stop official exchanges and actions aimed at improving substantive relations with Taiwan, and to treat Taiwan-related issues with caution, Wang said. China will provide the necessary responses as the situation develops.

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