Dr Kurt Campbell, the key Biden administration advisor concerning Asia Pacific affairs, over the weekend, confirmed that the United States will conduct drills in waters off Taiwan in an effort to underline their status under international law while also unveiling a new roadmap for stronger deeper economic ties with Taipei. It comes as a former Thai senator from Khon Kaen, on Sunday, condemned the policy of the United States and expressed support for China.

A quintet of US public representatives landed in Taiwan on Sunday evening in what appears to be a determined show of force by the United States over the island countering the hostile reaction from Beijing to an earlier visit by US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi at the start of the month. The latest move comes amid the presence of Chinese forces both in the air and offshore near the island with new plans unveiled in Washington DC to enhance trade with Taipei and to also conduct US military exercises in the Taiwan Strait and waters off the island.

Some Of the US delegation led by Senator Ed Markey of Massachusetts after touchdown on Sunday night August 14th at Songshan Airport in Taipei at 7 pm. They were welcomed by Douglas Yu-tien Hsu of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Taipei. (Inset) Mr Prasert Prakunsuksaphan, a former senator and Vice President of the Thai-Chinese Cultural and Economic Association who on Sunday, condemned US policy. (Inset bottom) Key US strategic chief in the Asia Pacific under the Biden administration, Dr Kurt Campbell.

As tensions continue to simmer between China and the United States over the controversial visit of US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi to Taiwan at the beginning of the month sparking a furious response from Beijing including a suspension of cooperative ties with the United States as well as unprecedented military drills in the Taiwan Strait and waters surrounding the island, a new US political delegation landed in Taiwan on Sunday evening.

The mission, led by the senior US senator for Massachusetts since 2013, Senator Ed Markey also includes three members of the US House of Representatives and a delegate to the House of Representatives from American Samoa.

US Senator, three congressmen and American Samoan delegate make up the high-powered party in Taipei

They were named as Republican Amata Coleman Radewagen who is a delegate to America’s lower house and Democratic US House members John Garamendi and Alan Lowenthal from California as well as Don Beyer from the state of Virginia.

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A Tawainese broadcaster confirmed that the plane carrying the US delegation touched down at Songshan Airport in Taipei at 7 pm, and showed the high-ranking dignatories being welcomed at the airport by a senior official.

It is understood the party will meet Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen in the course of the short visit which will conclude on Monday.

American Institute in Taipei, the de facto US embassy, confirmed the visit and named those on the plane 

Details of the visiting party from the United States were confirmed by the American Institute in Taipei which is the de facto US mission to the self-governing island after the United States, under the Carter administration, recognised Beijing in 1978 and supported the One China policy thereby withdrawing its embassy in favour of the Communist-controlled mainland.

Over the weekend, Dr Kurt Campbell, the White House coordinator for the Asia-Pacific and top adviser to President Joe Biden, said that despite roiled tensions with China, US forces ‘will continue to fly, sail and operate where international law allows, consistent with our longstanding commitment to freedom of navigation’.

The ramping up of tension between China and the United States has led some US analysts to express concern that China’s response to the Pelosi visit, the second by a US speaker of the house and the first in 25 years, may have led to an altered balance of power over the island which since exploratory talks between China and the United States began in 1971, has proven to be a key source of tension between the two countries.

Tensions between the United States and China continue to escalate after a sea change in relationship 

A sea change in America’s and indeed the western world’s view of China, caused by a range of issues from human rights abuses, its expansionists policies in the region and a change of economic strategy caused by more populist politics in the west since 2017, aggravated by the COVID-19 crisis, has seen America’s economy moving to decouple from it while internal problems within the Communist country are giving rise to an increasing lack of confidence in its economy.

By comparison, the healthy state of democracy in Taiwan and a new impetus in western countries, driven by voters demanding more political integrity, is leading to initial murmurings questioning the wisdom and validity, in the first place, of the ‘One China’ policy devised by US Secretary of State Henry Kisinger and Chinese negotiators in the 1970s given that Taiwan, formerly known as Formosa, has never been ruled from the Chinese mainland in modern times and has always had an independent history.

More aggressive China under Xi Jinping leads to new murmurings in western countries about the basis and continued justification of the One China policy

The increasingly aggressive stance of Beijing under President Xi Jinping in the region including its failure to honour treaty obligations to the United Kingdom, negotiated over Hong Kong’s handover to Beijing in 1997, is leading to more people calling for a reappraisal of western policies not only in the United States but in Europe and Australia.

China’s anxiety over this movement has not been helped by numerous clear statements of support for Taiwan from US President Biden although the Biden administration has consistently repeated its continued commitment to the One China principle.

In recent days, Dr Kurt Campbell, the administration’s key strategist for the Asia Pacific has made it clear that the US will continue to assert the status of the Taiwan Strait under international law. 

‘That includes conducting standard air and maritime transits through the Taiwan Strait in the next few weeks,’ he confirmed to reporters over the weekend.

Top Biden administration official declines to give details on planned US military exercises near Taiwan

The key official declined to give specifics saying he was precluded from making ‘comments about either the nature of our crossings or the timings across the Taiwan Strait’.

He asserted that the United States would ‘continue to fly, sail and operate where international law allows, consistent with our longstanding commitment to freedom of navigation’.

Dr Campbell also revealed that an ‘ambitious roadmap’ would be unveiled by the Biden administration for even deeper economic ties between the United States and Taiwan shortly.

Former Thai senator condemns US policy

On Sunday night, as the American delegation touched down in Taipei, Taiwan’s Defence Ministry confirmed that 22 Chinese military aircraft were in flight around the island with six naval ships in its waters at approximately 5 pm. 

The move comes as Thailand’s air force began drills on Sunday with its Chinese counterpart while a powerful speech, also on Sunday, by Khon Kaen-based Mr Prasert Prakunsuksaphan, a former senator and Vice President of the Thai-Chinese Cultural and Economic Association, condemned US policy on Taiwan and indeed across the world while emphasising support in Thailand for the goal of Chinese reunification.

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