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Biden pick for secretary of state backs closer ties with Taiwan

Antony Blinken first met Tsai Ing-wen when she visited US as presidential candidate in 2015

Then-deputy national security adviser Tony Blinken speaks during a press briefing at the White House on July 28, 2014.

Then-deputy national security adviser Tony Blinken speaks during a press briefing at the White House on July 28, 2014. (AP photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — President-elect Joe Biden's reported pick for secretary of state is in favor of deepening relations between the U.S. and Taiwan.

On Monday (Nov. 23), multiple media outlets including Associated Press reported that Biden will nominate Antony Blinken to serve as secretary of state, with the announcement of his appointment expected to be made on Tuesday (Nov. 24). As secretary of state, Blinken will seek to use a multilateral approach to counter China while continuing to strengthen ties with Taiwan.

Blinken, 58, formerly served as deputy secretary of state under former President Barack Obama and is a senior foreign policy advisor to Biden, with 35 years of experience in the foreign service. During an event hosted by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce on Sept. 22, Blinken said that it would be unrealistic for the U.S. to "fully decouple" from China, but he suggested Biden should seek to rebuild alliances and set international technology standards.

He asserted that Biden should work on strengthening America's competitiveness to better counter Beijing. Blinken characterized Phase 1 of President Donald Trump's trade deal with China as "a debacle" since it failed to address systemic issues between the two countries.

In recent months, Blinken has met with Taiwanese officials and spoken openly about improving bilateral ties. When Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) on Aug. 28 announced the country would drop import restrictions on U.S. beef and cattle, Blinken that same day posted a tweet in which he lauded the move as good for American farmers, ranchers, and the economy.

Blinken added that stronger economic relations between the U.S. and Taiwan will support "our shared democratic values and our common commitment to regional peace and stability." The tweet was re-tweeted by Ely Ratner, Deputy Director at the Center for a New American Security and foreign policy adviser to Biden's presidential campaign, who is expected to advise Biden on China-related policies and on Oct. 23 tweeted in support of deepening ties with Taiwan.

On Nov. 15, Taiwan's representative in Washington, Hsiao Bi-khim (蕭美琴), announced on Twitter that she had called Blinken "to convey Taiwan's congratulations to the president-elect." She also expressed appreciation for bipartisan support for U.S.-Taiwan relations and said she hoped to "continue close cooperation" in the coming years.

In 2015, while running as the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) candidate for president, Tsai met with Blinken and became the first Taiwanese presidential candidate to enter the White House and the U.S. Department of State headquarters. After Tsai was elected president in 2016, Blinken stated before the U.S. House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee in April that the U.S. was looking forward to working with Taiwan's first female president.