By Choekyi Lhamo
DHARAMSHALA, Jan. 13: The US State Department on Tuesday announced the cancellation of all travel this week including a planned visit to Taiwan by US Ambassador to the United Nations Kelly Craft. The UN envoy’s trip to Taiwan was scheduled from Wednesday to Friday which had greatly angered China as it reiterated its disapproval over the exchange.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that all travel this week has been cancelled including his trip to Europe as part of the transition process to the incoming President-elect Biden administration. However, European diplomats have said that Luxembourg’s foreign minister and top EU officials had declined to meet with him during his planned European trip.
Craft’s trip to Taiwan appeared to be another attempt by Pompeo and Trump’s administration to issue a tough approach on China before Biden takes office on Jan. 20. Pompeo on Saturday announced that he was lifting restrictions on contacts between the US officials and their Taiwanese counterparts.
Taiwanese government expressed “understanding and respect” for the decision but also regret for the same, “The Ministry of Foreign Affairs regrets that the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Kelly Craft cannot lead a delegation to visit Taiwan from Jan. 13 to 15 as scheduled, but welcomes Ambassador Craft to visit at an appropriate time in the future.” Craft will be leaving the role as the UN envoy when President-elect assumes his post next week.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian remarked, “China will continue to take all necessary steps to firmly defend its sovereignty and security interests.” US has no formal diplomatic ties with Taiwan but it is one of the strongest international backer and arms supplier to Taiwan, owing to 1979 Taiwan Relations Act.