Pompeo to visit Taiwan in rare trip by former top US diplomat

Samson Ellis and Cindy Wang

Then-Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks to the press at the State Department in Washington, D.C., on May 20, 2020.

(Tribune News Service) — Former Secretary of State Michael Pompeo is scheduled to travel to Taiwan next month, one of the most senior U.S. dignitaries to visit the democratically ruled island in recent years.

Pompeo has accepted an invitation from the Taipei-based Prospect Foundation, the group’s president, Lai I-chung, said Monday. The former top U.S. diplomat and potential Republican presidential contender will visit Taiwan from March 2-5, the Foreign Ministry in Taipei said Monday.

Pompeo will meet with President Tsai Ing-wen on March 3, the Liberty Times reported. The former secretary of state will also meet senior management figures from Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. and China Steel Corp., although details of those meetings will remain private, the publication said.

Pompeo, who served as secretary of state under President Donald Trump from April 2018 to January 2021, was one of the administration’s most vocal advocates for a more confrontational policy toward China. That period included visits to Taipei by two Cabinet-level officials, the most senior American delegations since the U.S. switched official ties to Beijing in 1979.

Higher-ranking American officials than Pompeo have visited Taiwan after leaving office, including former President Bill Clinton in 2005 and former Vice President Dick Cheney in 2017.

Beijing claims the island as Chinese territory and protests such visits, considering them a violation of U.S. agreements on avoiding formal ties with Taipei. Tsai’s ruling Democratic Progressive Party meanwhile views Taiwan as an already de facto sovereign nation awaiting wider international recognition.

“Pompeo has long been sanctioned by China due to his anti-China actions and deeds,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said at a regular press briefing in Beijing on Monday. “The DPP authorities’ attempts to achieve independence with the help of the U.S. will only end up getting themselves burnt.”

The visit comes as Pompeo’s name circulates as a potential contender for the Republican nomination in 2024, a bid that could be complicated by any comeback attempt by Trump. Pompeo is currently a distinguished fellow at the conservative Hudson Institute.

In the final days of Pompeo’s tenure, the State Department scrapped decades-old restrictions on how U.S. diplomats could interact with their Taiwanese counterparts. Pompeo will be joined by Miles Yu, his former policy adviser, the Liberty Times said.

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