US deeply disappointed by El Salvador, says Director of American Inst. in Taiwan

The new AIT director met with President Tsai on Thursday

President Tsai Ing-wen meets with AIT Director William Christensen on August 23 (Photo courtesy of the Presidential Office)

President Tsai Ing-wen meets with AIT Director William Christensen on August 23 (Photo courtesy of the Presidential Office)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News)— Director of the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) William Christensen said Thursday that the United States was deeply disappointed by El Salvador’s decision to break diplomatic ties with Taiwan, at a meeting with Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) that was broadcast live on the president’s Facebook page.

Christensen assumed the position of director of the de-facto U.S. embassy in Taiwan two weeks ago at a time when most believe the Taiwan-U.S. relationship to be rapidly warming because of the trade standoff between China and the U.S., and growing Chinese influence in the region.

Speaking of the rupture of diplomatic relations between Taiwan and El Salvador, Christensen stressed that the U.S. “is deeply disappointed” and is therefore reassessing its relationship with the Central American nation. “China’s unilateral efforts to alter the status quo aren’t helpful, and undermine the framework that has enabled peace, stability, and development in the region for decades.”

President Tsai said despite China’s intimidation, Taiwan will continue to defend the country’s sovereignty and national dignity, strengthen its self-defense capability, and protect the free and democratic way of life. “For the people of Taiwan this is the bottom line and self-evident truth that cannot be challenged.”

The president once again called on like-minded countries to stand up to China’s coercive behavior within the region and even around the globe. She pointed out that steady and stable Taiwan-U.S. relations have always been a cornerstone of peace, stability, and prosperity of the Indo-Pacific region. “We will continue to be a force for regional stability and good. We will never give up our commitment to good will, democracy, and freedom.”

El Salvador switched ties to China on Tuesday, reducing the number of Taiwan’s diplomatic allies to 17. President Tsai, during a talk given on the same day, pleaded for unity among political parties to work in defiance of Beijing’s consistent campaign to isolate Taiwan diplomatically and diminish the country’s international space, even though the Kuomintang, the biggest opposition party which is usually considered pro-China, continued to criticize the Tsai administration’s cross-strait policy.

Referring to Taiwan as “a reliable partner” and “an important player” in the Indo-Pacific region, where China’s growing power and influence have worried neighboring countries and alarmed the U.S., the AIT director told President Tsai that “the United States and Taiwan stand together.”

“I believe our relationship with Taiwan today is as good as it has ever been,” said Christensen, adding, “But together, with you, I look forward to taking our relationship to new levels of friendship and cooperation.”