A planned three-day visit to Taiwan starting Wednesday by Kelly Craft, the United States' ambassador to the United Nations, has been cancelled as the US State Department announced it has called off all high-level visits scheduled for this week.
In a Tuesday statement, the US State Department said it is well along in its transition efforts with President-elect Joe Biden's team. "We are fully committed to the completion of a smooth and orderly transition process to be finalized over the next 8 days," the statement read.
Taiwan was originally about to greet Craft on Wednesday afternoon for her trip to the democratic island until Friday. Craft was originally to meet with President Tasi Ing-wen and foreign minister Joseph Wu on Thursday.
In a statement released in Taipei, Presidential Office spokesperson Xavier Chang on Wednesday said that Taiwan respects the US decisions on the cancellation of all scheduled official visits and feels sorry to know that Craft won't be able to arrive as planned.
"We still hope that Ambassador Craft will come visit us" at an appropriate time, Chang asserted.
Craft was originally scheduled to visit Taipei this week to "reinforce the US government's strong and ongoing support for Taiwan's international space," according to the US mission to the UN.
Excluded from UN
Taiwan has been excluded from membership of the UN system due to opposition from China.
In a statement, Taiwan's foreign ministry also said it welcomed a future visit from Craft at an appropriate time.
Taiwan's ruling Democratic Progress Party (DPP) said on Wednesday the cancellation of US official visits this week did not target Taiwan, stressing that both sides share same core values of freedom, democracy, and human rights.
"Based on the existing foundation, we look forward to continue to strive for cross-party support in the US and deepen Taiwan-US collaborative partnership," DPP lawmaker Lo Chih-cheng said in the statement.
Washington's announcement of Craft's visit to Taiwan has been sharply criticized by Beijing, which opposes any official contact between the US and Taiwan.
Taiwan has had an independent government since 1949, but China considers the island part of its territory. In 1979, Washington cut diplomatic ties with Taipei and built relations with Beijing.