TAIPEI (Taiwan News) - Deputy Foreign Minister Hsu Szu-chien (徐斯儉) met White House security official Matt Pottinger in the Solomon Islands, according to a post on the United States embassy in Papua New Guinea’s Facebook page.
Pottinger, at present senior director for Asian affairs at the National Security Council, worked as a reporter in China and speaks fluent Mandarin Chinese.
Hsu and the U.S. official discussed means to intensify cooperation between the two countries in the Pacific region, the Central News Agency reported Wednesday.
The Facebook pictures carried the caption “National Security Council Senior Director, Matt Pottinger in the Solomon Islands working with our mutual allies and partners for a free and open Indo-Pacific.”
The meeting occurred in early March during a trip by Hsu to visit the Solomon Islands, one of Taiwan’s 17 official diplomatic allies. Pottinger traveled to the islands, where the U.S. does not have an embassy, specifically to meet with Hsu, according to the CNA report.
However, analysts in the U.S. have pointed out that some candidates in next month’s Solomon Islands elections have questioned the relationship with Taiwan, hinting that the archipelago might be the next country to switch recognition to China.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs said it was paying close attention to elections scheduled in several allies, and pointed at last month’s 19th Micronesia Presidents’ Summit, where a joint declaration called for equal treatment of Taiwan and China.
On Thursday, President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) will leave on a tour of three Pacific allies, Palau, Nauru and the Marshall Islands.