U.S. Official Visits Taiwan in Highest Level Meeting in 14 Years

A U.S. cabinet-level official met with Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou today in the highest-level U.S. government visit to the island democracy since 2000.

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy praised Taiwan’s environmental efforts in a speech delivered today at National Taiwan University, according to a transcript from the unofficial U.S. diplomatic office in Taipei. She also said the U.S. remains committed to its “one China” policy as well as a domestic law governing relations with Taiwan, an independently governed island that China claims as its own.

The visit follows an April 7 vote by the U.S. House of Representatives to reaffirm the 35-year-old Taiwan Relations Act, which backs weapons sales to the Republic of China, Taiwan’s official name, in the interest of maintaining peace in the Western Pacific. China’s defense ministry last week called the House’s vote, which also authorized the sale of used warships to Taiwan, “extremely destructive.”

“The U.S. wants to show it remains of the view that Taiwan is important,” said Chen Mumin, an associate professor of international politics at National Chung-Hsing University. “It’s a good achievement for Taiwan’s pragmatic diplomacy with countries with which it has no official ties.”

McCarthy’s visit represents “the restoration of mutual trust between Taiwan and the U.S.,” Ma said in a statement today, calling the visit “very meaningful.”

Shared Values

The top U.S. diplomat in Taipei said on April 9 that shared values such as democracy and the rule of law are the basis for “firm and longstanding” commitments to Taiwan. Christopher Marut, Director of the American Institute in Taiwan, said the U.S. would consider any non-peaceful means to determine the democracy’s future “of grave concern” to his nation.

McCarthy, who travels next to Vietnam, follows the 2000 visit to Taiwan made by then-U.S. Secretary of Transportation Rodney Slater. The top American environmental protection official agreed to become a “founding partner” in a newly created International Environmental Partnership, according to a statement from Taiwan’s foreign affairs ministry today.

“Taipei is renowned as one of Asia’s most livable cities,” the U.S. official said.

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