U.S. Deputy Secretary of Energy Daniel B. Poneman will visit Taipei from Dec. 12 to Dec. 14, the highest-ranking U.S. government official to visit Taiwan in more than a decade.
Poneman will meet President Ma Ying-jeou and local business leaders, the American Institute in Taiwan, the de facto U.S. embassy on the island, said in an e-mailed statement yesterday.
China regards Taiwan, ruled separately since a civil war ended in 1949, as its territory and publicly objects to actions by overseas governments that seem to imply recognition of the island as an independent nation. The U.S. doesn’t have formal diplomatic ties with Taiwan, with institute officials resigning from the State Department while they work on the island.
Several U.S. officials have visited Taiwan this year, including Sandra B. Henriquez, assistant secretary at the Department of Housing and Urban Development, and Assistant Secretary of commerce Suresh Kumar, the island’s Central News Agency reported.
Poneman will speak at National Taiwan University on Dec. 13 about “how the United States and Taiwan can work together to tackle tomorrow’s energy challenges,” the institute said yesterday. Poneman will use the trip to build greater cooperation between the U.S. and Taiwan on scientific research, nuclear energy and renewable energy technologies, it said.
The trip comes one month before Ma faces re-election. Ma was leading in opinion polls last week in a race against opposition Democratic Progressive Party candidate Tsai Ing-wen and James Soong of the People’s First Party. The presidential and legislative elections will be held on Jan. 14.
Ma, who returned the Kuomintang party to power in 2008, is campaigning on his ability to steer the economy through a global slump and improve ties with China.