WASHINGTON - The United States said Monday it is promoting stronger ties with Taiwan to "restore the balance" in the face of increased pressure from China on the territory Beijing views as its own, while announcing the launch of a new economic dialogue with Taipei.
Noting that the United States has not changed its long-standing "one-China" policy, under which Washington maintains only unofficial relations with Taipei, David Stilwell, the State Department's top diplomat for East Asia, said it is making "updates" to its engagement with Taiwan to respond to the "threat" Beijing poses to peace and stability in the region.
"In recent years, the Chinese Communist Party has targeted Taiwan with diplomatic isolation, bellicose military threats and actions, cyber hacks, economic pressure," the U.S. assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs told an online event of the Heritage Foundation, a conservative Washington-based think tank.
Adding that Beijing has also "unilaterally altered" the status quo across the Taiwan Strait and is stepping up military maneuvers and other activities, Stilwell said, "We must act to restore the balance. Other peace loving countries should do the same."
On the bilateral economic dialogue, Stilwell said the talks will explore the "full spectrum" of the economic relationship, such as semiconductors, health care, energy, and beyond, with "technology at the core."
The United States, meanwhile, has declassified documents that provide detail on security assurances to Taiwan made in 1982 by then US President Ronald Reagan, which focused on U.S. arms sales to Taiwan.
The "Six Assurances" to Taiwan include that the United States does not agree to engage in prior consultations with Beijing on arms sales to Taiwan, and has not agreed a date for ending arms sales to the self-governing island.
Last year, the U.S. government declassified a 1982 internal presidential memo clarifying that "the US willingness to reduce its arms sales to Taiwan is conditioned absolutely upon the continued commitment of China to the peaceful solution" of the Taiwan-China differences and that the "quality and quantity of the arms provided Taiwan be conditioned entirely on the threat" posed by China.
"It is important to review history like this because Beijing has a habit of distorting it," Stilwell said.
By upholding the Six Assurances, "We will continue to help Taipei resist the Chinese Communist Party's campaign to pressure, intimidate, and marginalize Taiwan," he said.
Taiwan and China have been governed separately since they split during a civil war in 1949. Beijing, which regards Taiwan as a renegade province, has since endeavored to bring the island into its fold.