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Exclusive-Biden sends former top defense officials to Taiwan in show of support -Breaking

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© Reuters. FILE PHOTO. Flags from Taiwan and the U.S. were placed at a meeting between Ed Royce, Chairman of U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee, and Su Chia-chyuan (President of Legislative Yuan) in Taipei on March 27, 2018. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu/File photo

David Brunnstrom, Michael Martina

WASHINGTON, (Reuters) – The U.S. president Joe Biden will dispatch a delegation of ex-senior defense and security officers to Taiwan Monday. This is a gesture of support for Taiwan, a senior American official said.

Mike Mullen was once chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. This is a period when Taiwan has been more vigilant than usual, afraid that China might take advantage of an unfocused West to attack it.

Beijing claimed the democratically-governed island for its own, and has promised to take it under Chinese rule.

The former Navy Admiral and top U.S. Military Officer under Presidents George W. Bush & Barack Obama will accompany Mullen. According to an anonymous source, Michele Flournoy and Meghan O’Sullivan were previously deputy national security advisors under Bush.

Evan Medeiros and Mike Green, former senior National Security Council directors for Asia will be making the same trip. This is to demonstrate our support for Taiwan, the official said to Reuters.

They are expected to arrive in Taiwan Tuesday afternoon, and will stay there until Wednesday night. During this time, they intend to meet Taiwan President TsaiIng-wen and Defense Minister Chiukuo-cheng, as well as other high-ranking officials.

According to the official, it was not possible for him to confirm whether Russia had influenced his visit due the ongoing invasion of Ukraine.

Taiwan stated last week that Mike Pompeo, former Secretary of State to the U.S., will visit Taiwan between March 2-5, and meet Tsai.

Pompeo’s trip to Washington was not discussed by the Biden administration, who called him a private citizen.

The senior administration official referred to Mullen’s delegation and said that “the selection of these five individuals sends out an important signal about U.S. bipartisan commitment to Taiwan democracy and peace, and it demonstrates how the Biden administration remains committed to Taiwan in a larger sense.”

Washington will consider any attempt to decide Taiwan’s future through peaceful means as a threat to peace and security in the Western Pacific, the official said.

The official stated that the United States would continue to be able to resist the use of force and other coercion to threaten the safety or social system or economy of Taiwanese people.

The first time a delegation of ex-officials has visited Taiwan since April 2021 when the former U.S. officials were invited by Biden, Mullen and James Steinberg is the highlight of Mullen’s visit. Tsai is being accused by Beijing of wanting independence.

This latest voyage comes just days after an American warship passed through Taiwan Strait. It is the critical waterway connecting Taiwan and China. Although the U.S. described it as routine, Beijing claimed that it was provocative.

Sunday was a day when the White House called for China to reject Russia’s incursion in Ukraine.

After Russian President Vladimir Putin and China’s leader Xi Jinping declared an intensified strategic partnership to counter U.S. influence, Beijing has largely avoided criticizing Moscow.

Washington recognizes Beijing as a diplomatic partner and has no official relations with Taipei, despite a longstanding U.S. policy. The U.S. requires Taiwan to be able to defend itself. However, the Biden administration pledges to maintain Trump and Pompeo’s policies of increasing engagement with Taiwan.

Russia’s aggression on Ukraine has fueled a debate over the controversial U.S. policy “strategic uncertainty,” which Washington doesn’t explicitly state whether it will protect Taiwan in case of Chinese invasion.

A number of U.S. lawmakers including Adam Schiff, the Democratic Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, have asked for more clarity regarding the U.S. “obligation” to defend Taiwan. This is in response to increased Chinese military pressure. But proponents argue that the current policy could increase conflict risk.

The Chinese ambassador to Washington warned that the two superpowers might end up in military conflict if Washington doesn’t encourage Taiwanese independence.

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