The administration of US President Joe Biden has issued new rules for closer "unofficial" ties with Taiwan — a move bound to anger Beijing.
US State Department spokesman Ned Price announced on Friday the imminent release of a new set of guidelines that "reflects our deepening unofficial relationship".
“Taiwan is a vibrant democracy and an important security and economic partner that is also a force for good in the international community”, Price noted.
The new rules will reportedly allow US officials to meet Taiwanese counterparts in federal buildings as well as visiting the breakaway province's economic and cultural offices, its de-facto embassies and consulates abroad. That will include the symbolic 17-acre Twin Oaks estate in Washington DC that was the residence of the Taiwanese ambassador until the US broke off official diplomatic relations in 1979.
The move is seen by observers as a further departure from the 'One China' policy of officially recognising only one government for all of China. Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced in January, shortly before leaving office, that Washington was lifting its "self-imposed restrictions" on relations with the island.
Less than a fortnight later, Taiwanese envoy Hsiao Bi-khim was invited to Biden's inauguration in Washington DC, an event held behind sheets of bullet-proof glass as 20,000 National Guard troops stood watch over the deserted capital.
The One China policy recognises one government for both mainland China and the breakaway province of Taiwan.
Washington recognised Taiwan — officially named the Republic of China — as the sole Chinese state from 1949 to 1979, before switching to back the People's Republic of China (PRC) during a period of détente with Beijing. The PRC was not admitted to membership the United Nations in 1971, despite being a nuclear power and home to a sixth of the world's population.
The US continues to sell arms and provide other defensive assets to Taipai, despite the island nation's periodic military skirmishes at the hands of the PRC.