Senior US Department of State official Sandra Oudkirk on Thursday said that she would visit Taiwan in two weeks.
“I’m the US senior official for APEC, so in my APEC capacity I’ll be traveling to Taiwan to consult with them on APEC-related issues,” Oudkirk said at a joint hearing for the US House of Representatives committees on Natural Resources and Foreign Affairs.
Oudkirk serves in the State Department’s Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs as US senior official for APEC and deputy assistant secretary for Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific Islands.
She was responding to questions from US Representative Ann Wagner, who asked whether Oudkirk had “considered traveling to Taipei, in accordance with the Taiwan Travel Act, to demonstrate American support for Taiwan in the wake of the Solomon Islands’ and Kiribati’s decision to break with Taiwan.”
Oudkirk said she was “very disappointed” at the decision last week by the two Pacific island nations to switch political recognition from Taipei to Beijing, leaving Taiwan with 15 diplomatic allies.
“Taiwan is a democratic success story, a reliable partner and a force for good in the world,” she said. “As [US] Vice President Mike Pence said, America will always believe that Taiwan’s embrace of democracy is an example to be internationally supported.”
Wagner said she was pleased to hear about Oudkirk’s visit to Taiwan.
“We need to make a strong statement about this,” Wagner said. “We cannot have China bullying our friend and ally in the region.”
During the hearing, Oudkirk said the US has a deep and abiding interest in peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait.
Maintaining the “status quo” with respect to diplomatic ties is a key part of that, she said.
Oudkirk said she believes that the “status quo” situation has maintained peace and prosperity for decades and countries that choose China in the hope of providing economic benefits “will ultimately be disappointed.”
Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokeswoman Joanne Ou (歐江安) yesterday said that the ministry has been maintaining close contact with the US and would not reveal any travel arrangement details beforehand.
Promoting mutual visits of high-ranking Taiwanese and US officials is an important part of the government’s US policy, she added.
Additional reporting by Lin Chia-nan
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