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Envoy back in Taiwan to brief government on relations with Washington

2023-02-09
Focus Taiwan
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Hsiao Bi-khim. CNA photo Feb. 7, 2023
Hsiao Bi-khim. CNA photo Feb. 7, 2023

Taipei, Feb. 7 (CNA) Taiwan's top envoy to the United States Hsiao Bi-khim (蕭美琴) on Tuesday said she had returned home to brief President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) and relevant government units on the current state of relations with Washington.

Hsiao, who recently returned to Taiwan for the first time since taking office in 2020, told reporters following a meeting with Foreign Minister Joseph Wu (吳釗燮) that she had already met with President Tsai, Premier Chen Chien-jen (陳建仁) and other senior officials to discuss U.S.-Taiwan relations.

She did not disclose more details of these meetings, saying only that several major projects between Taipei and Washington were ongoing.

"Over the past three years, bilateral relations in terms of two-way trade and investment, on cross-Strait peace and stability, as well as Taiwan's international participation, have all seen steadfast improvement," she told reporters at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs' (MOFA) Taipei headquarters.

Hsaio added that it was standard MOFA practice for envoys to return to Taiwan to brief government leaders every two years.

Hsiao made the remarks when asked to explain the meaning of her ongoing trip in Taipei, amid reports she is to be picked as the running mate in the 2024 presidential election of incumbent Vice President and ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Chair Lai Ching-te (賴清德), the DPP's likely candidate.

The current envoy to Washington, who has previously described rumors of a vice presidential bid as unfounded, said Tuesday that she would only discuss matters related to the United States while in Taiwan and would not be commenting on domestic politics.

Meanwhile, asked to comment on tensions between Washington and Beijing after a suspected Chinese spy balloon in American airspace, Hsiao said the incident had shocked U.S. society and strained bilateral relations and mutual trust.

She added that she believed the incident would help Washington better understand the situation in Taiwan when the latter is facing daily gray zone operations launched by Beijing.

U.S. fighter jets brought the balloon down over U.S. territorial waters on Saturday, with Washington saying it believed it was monitoring sensitive military sites.

The incident also set up a diplomatic crisis, with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken calling off an imminent trip to China.

Beijing, however, has denied that the balloon was used for spying and claimed it was a civilian airship blown off course.

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