Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Saturday that he is lifting "self-imposed restrictions" on contacts between American diplomats and their Taiwanese counterparts, ending a practice that was in place to appease China.
The United States, like most countries, doesn't have official relations with Taiwan, which China claims as its territory, but the Trump administration has "ramped up" its support for the self-ruled, democratic country over the years, Reuters notes, and Pompeo's latest move appears to be part of an effort to "lock in a tough approach" to Beijing before the White House transition takes place later this month.
Taiwan's government welcomed the decision, but Chinese state media was unsurprisingly critical. One piece of commentary published by CGTN, the English-language channel of state broadcaster CCTV, called it a "cowardly act of sabotage" that "crossed a dangerous red line." And Hu Xijin, the editor of China's state-owned Global Times, warned — in a since-delated tweet — that Taiwan could face repercussions for Pompeo's actions, The Associated Press reports. "The option of using military means to solve [the] Taiwan question will also be put on the table," the tweet reportedly read.
The move may not be universally applauded stateside, either, per Reuters. Bonnie Glaser, an Asia expert at Washington's Center for Strategic and International Studies, predicts the Biden administration will "rightly be unhappy that a policy decision like this was made in the final days of the Trump administration." Read more at Reuters and The Associated Press.