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‘Big thing’: Taiwan praises US move to lift restrictions on ties

Taiwan Foreign Minister Joseph Wu said on Monday, describing it as a major boost for relations with the island’s most important global backer.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced the move on Saturday, in the waning days of the Trump administration ahead of Joe Biden assuming the U.S. presidency on Jan 20.

China, which claims democratic Taiwan as its own territory, has yet to formally respond, but the move is likely to increase Sino-U.S. tensions as Biden prepares to take over. “This is a big thing for the elevation of Taiwan-U.S. relations,” Wu told reporters, expressing his “sincere gratitude” to the U.S. government.

“Taiwan-U.S. relations have been elevated to a global partnership. The foreign ministry will not let our guard down and hope to continue to boost the development of Taiwan-U.S. ties.”

Although the United States, like most countries, has no official ties with Taiwan, it is bound by law to provide it with the means to defend itself, and under President Donald Trump has ramped up arms sales and sent senior officials to Taipei.

On Wednesday, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Kelly Craft, will arrive in Taipei for a three-day visit, which China has denounced. Wu said both he and President Tsai Ing-wen would meet Craft on Thursday.

The topic for the visit is to discuss how to promote Taiwan’s international participation, he added. Craft’s visit is highly symbolic, as Taiwan is not a member of the United Nations nor most global bodies because of China’s objections.

Beijing says only it has the right to speak for Taiwan on the international stage. Taiwan says only its democratically elected government has this right.

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