TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — The top Pentagon official for China made a surprise visit to Taiwan on Friday (Feb. 17), according to British media.
The Financial Times on Friday reported that Michael S. Chase, the U.S. Department of Defense's deputy assistant secretary of defense for China, was slated to arrive in Taiwan "in the coming days." The newspaper said Chase that day was in Mongolia for military talks.
When asked by the media on that morning to confirm Chase's visit, Taiwan Defense Minister Chiu Kuo-cheng (邱國正) said that whenever any delegation visits for the benefit of Taiwan, "it is a very good opportunity." When pressed to provide a timeframe for when Chase would arrive, Chiu appeared to acknowledge that it would occur by saying that he cannot yet provide precise details on the timing of the trip.
However, at 3:59 p.m., the author of the article, Demetri Sevastopulo, wrote on Twitter that the story had been updated to clarify that following a trip to Ulan Bator in Mongolia, "Chase is now in Taiwan." On Saturday (Feb. 18), Reuters cited two sources as confirming that Chase is indeed in Taiwan.
In response to a question about Chase's impending visit at a press conference in Beijing on Friday, Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Wang Wenbin (汪文斌) said that China "firmly opposes official interactions and military ties between the U.S. and Taiwan." He said that Beijing urges the U.S. to adhere to its "one China principle" and the Three Joint Communiques.
Wang warned the U.S. to not support Taiwan's independence and put a halt to any form of official exchanges and military relations with Taiwan. He then demanded the U.S. "stop meddling in the Taiwan issue, and stop creating new tension factors in the Taiwan Strait."
Chase is the highest-level Pentagon official to visit Taiwan since former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for East Asia Heino Klinck was dispatched to Taiwan in 2019. Klinck was the highest-level Pentagon official to visit Taiwan since 1979.