U.S. Undersecretary of State for Economic Growth, Energy, and the Environment Keith Krach landed in Taiwan on Thursday, Sept. 17, on the second official visit by a senior Trump administration official in less than two months. For three days Krach will hold various protocol meetings including a meeting with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-Wen. The news did not go down well with the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) that announced a severe warning and threatened possible reprisals.
As the State Department’s official statement indicated, Krach traveled to Taiwan to attend the memorial service for former President Lee Teng-hui on Sept. 19 where he will also meet with President Tsai Ing-Wen and hold meetings with other Taiwanese officials.
“The United States honors President Lee’s legacy by continuing our strong bonds with Taiwan and its vibrant democracy through shared political and economic values,” the official statement concludes.
Since the beginning of his administration, President Donald Trump has been in constant dialogue with Taiwan’s democratic government. According to the South China Morning Post (SCMP), since taking office in 2017, Trump has signed seven major arms agreements worth $13.3 billion and pushed through several laws and partnership agreements between the United States and Taiwan.
According to the SCMP, the plan for the meetings is to achieve a free trade agreement and thus link even more closely the two economies. If a free trade agreement is reached, among other things, it would surely mean that Taiwan will move its technology supply chains out of China.
The CCP, which considers Taiwan an “existential” issue, has for decades sought to deny the island military hardware, allies, or international recognition. The second visit by a senior official in such a short time, in addition to the agreements being made between the United States and Taiwan, has not gone well at all in Beijing.
This has provoked the expected response from the CCP, which is increasingly concerned about the weakening of its policy of keeping Taiwan limited in power and under its absolute control.
On Thursday, when the delegation’s visit to Taiwan was made official, the CCP condemned the news and warned that it might retaliate.
At a press conference on Thursday, as reported by AP, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said Krach’s visit “bolsters the separatist forces of Taiwan independence and undermines China-U.S. relations and peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait.”
Finally Wang threatened, “We urge the U.S. to immediately stop official exchanges and actions of improving substantive relations with Taiwan, and handle Taiwan-related issues cautiously. China will make necessary responses in accordance with the development of the situation.”