Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) has voiced “understanding and respect” for a sudden decision by the US to cancel its UN envoy’s visit to Taipei this week. US Ambassador to the UN Kelly Craft was set to land in Taipei on Wednesday.
“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs expressed its understanding and respect for the decision of the State Department,” an official statement read.
“[MOFA] regrets that the US Ambassador to the United Nations Kelly Craft cannot lead a delegation to visit Taiwan from January 13 to 15 as scheduled,” the statement continued.
The ministry also welcomed Craft to visit Taipei at “an appropriate time” in the future.
The three-day trip was cancelled, along with all other planned diplomatic visits by the US State Department on Wednesday, citing the need to ensure a “safe and orderly” transition to the Biden administration. US President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration ceremony will take place next Wednesday.
Craft had been expected to meet with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen on Thursday.
The ambassador was also scheduled to deliver a speech “on Taiwan’s impressive contributions to the global community and the importance of Taiwan’s meaningful and expanded participation in international organizations,” according to the State Department’s original announcement last Thursday.
Craft’s visit would have marked the first time a US ambassador visited Taiwan since 1979, when the US switched diplomatic recognition of “China” from Taipei to Beijing.
The envoy’s trip was cancelled amid angry statements from Beijing over the planned visit.
Beijing’s UN mission issued a statement last Thursday warning Washington that it will “pay a heavy price” should Craft’s Taiwan visit go ahead, saying it “firmly opposed” visit and called on the US to “stop its crazy provocation.”
Editor-in-Chief of Chinese state-backed tabloid Global Times Hu Xijin tweeted on Monday that the US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo should not “bite off more than he can chew” regarding the “Taiwan question.”
“Beijing knows he is bluffing,” Hu’s tweet read, referring to the US Secretary of State. “Beijing is ready to counterattack his maximum provocations anytime.”
Beijing views democratically self-governed Taiwan as one of its provinces and sees any diplomatic recognition by foreign powers of the Taiwanese administration as an attack on its sovereignty under its “One China” policy. Beijing has repeatedly voiced its intention to reclaim the island by whatever means necessary — including the use of force.
Taiwan has been ruled by the Republic of China government since 1945 after Japan — which occupied the island for 50 years — was defeated in the Second World War.