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Ex-US officials to visit Taiwan for post-election talks

Two former senior US officials will arrive in Taiwan later for post-election talks and underscore the US government’s “longstanding interest” in peace across the Taiwan Strait, the de facto US embassy in Taipei has said.

Lai Ching-te from Taiwan’s ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) won the presidential election yesterday and will take office on 20 May.

In a show of support for the government, a senior administration official said last week that US President Joe Biden planned to send an unofficial delegation to the Chinese-claimed island.

The Biden administration has feared that the election, transition and new administration would escalate conflict with Beijing.

The American Institute in Taiwan (AIT), which handles relations in the absence of official diplomatic ties, said former National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley and former Deputy Secretary of State James Steinberg would visit.

Lai Ching-te speaking after his election win

“As we have done previously following a Taiwan presidential election, the U.S. government has asked former senior officials to travel in their private capacity to Taiwan,” AIT said, adding its U.S.-based Chair Laura Rosenberger would be accompanying.

“On January 15, they will meet with a range of leading political figures and convey congratulations from the American people to Taiwan on its successful elections, support for Taiwan’s continued prosperity and growth, and our longstanding interest in cross-Strait peace and stability.”

Two sources familiar with the trip, speaking on condition of anonymity as they were not authorised to speak to the media, said such a post-election visit by former senior US officials was routine and not out of the ordinary.

Before the poll China repeatedly called Lai a dangerous separatist. China has stepped up its military and political pressure against Taiwan over the past four years.

Lai and current President Tsai Ing-wen reject Beijing’s sovereignty claims and say only Taiwan’s people can decide their future.

Both have offered talks with China but been rebuffed.

China’s foreign ministry and embassies around the world this weekend warned countries against supporting the Democratic Progressive Party and condemned foreign governments that congratulated the island’s Mr Lai.

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