Taiwan Minister likely to anger Beijing by meeting with US officials

MAC Minister Chen Ming-tong will arrive in the US on July 16, will visit Washington DC and New York City 

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MAC Minister Chen Ming-tong

MAC Minister Chen Ming-tong (By Central News Agency)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – Taiwan’s MAC Minister Chen Ming-tong (陳明通) will visit Washington D.C. later this week, in what will be the first instance of a cabinet level official under the Tsai Administration making a diplomatic trip to the U.S. capital.

Media sources in China have quoted some pundits and academics as saying that if Chen meets with State Department officials on the trip which then China is very likely to take some retaliatory measures against Taiwan and potentially the U.S.

Chen is scheduled to arrive in the U.S. on July 16 and return to Taiwan on July 23. During his trip he will visit New York and Washington D.C. and in addition to meeting government officials, Chen is also planning to address some think tanks such as the American Heritage Foundation and the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

In his addresses and talks with State Department officials, Chen is likely to discuss the current position and outlook of the Tsai administration with regards to the cross-strait situation.

The China Times reports that former deputy head of the MAC (林正義) will accompany Chen on his trip to the U.S. Lin is also the chief executive of the Institute for National Defense and Security Research, a think tank founded by the Ministry of National Defense.

Although there remains potential to meet with other state department officials, reports indicate that Chen is most likely to meet with the Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, Susan Thornton, who recently announced that July would be her last month employed in the post at the State Department.

Chen may also meet with White House National Security Council member and head of the council’s Asia-Pacific Affairs office Matthew Pottinger according to reports.

The meeting between Chen and State Department officials will be the first instance of a high level exchange following the U.S. government’s passage of the Taiwan Travel Act in March of this year.

While the MAC Minister is unlikely to meet with any cabinet level officials in D.C., his visit and meeting with U.S. officials will likely arouse the ire of Beijing regardless.

Relations between Washington and Beijing are already on edge because of the recently introduced tariffs, and because two U.S. Destroyers transited the Taiwan Strait from July 7 to July 8, the first such move since 2007.