U.S. Follows Biden-Xi Summit With High-Level Taiwan Security Talks: Report

The United States will host senior Taiwanese officials in Washington, D.C., this week for high-level security talks that follow hot on the heels of Monday's summit between President Joe Biden and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping.

The annual U.S.-Taiwan Political and Military Dialogue and Defense Review Talks have in 2021 been merged into a single meeting that will take place in the capital between Tuesday and Wednesday, have reported United Daily News and the Liberty Times, two Taipei-based newspapers that sit on opposite ends of Taiwan's political spectrum.

According to reports, the Taiwanese delegation will comprise President Tsai Ing-wen's National Security Council Deputy Secretary-General Hsu Szu-chien, Deputy Defense Minister Po Horng-huei and Deputy Foreign Minister Tseng Hou-jen. Unconfirmed attendees on the U.S. side include Assistant Secretary of the State Department's Bureau of Political-Military Affairs Jessica Lewis and Assistant Secretary of Defense for Indo-Pacific Security Affairs Ely Ratner.

Asked for confirmation on Tuesday, Pentagon spokesperson John Supple told Newsweek: "We are not commenting on specific operations, engagements, or training, but our support for and defense relationship with Taiwan remains aligned against the current threat posed by the People's Republic of China. We urge Beijing to honor its commitment to the peaceful resolution of cross-Strait differences, as delineated in the three communiques."

Taiwan's Foreign Ministry reportedly declined to comment.

U.S.-Taiwan Officials Set for High-level Defense Talks
File: The U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. The United States will host senior Taiwanese officials in Washington, D.C., this week for high-level security talks. Samuel Corum/Getty Images

Unnamed senior officials in Taipei told the papers that the talks were being merged at the request of the U.S. The two-day dialogue was arranged before the date for the Biden-Xi summit was confirmed, but Washington did not seek to reschedule despite the tight timetable, reports said.

The meeting is likely to include relevant briefings about the U.S.-China leaders' summit that concluded late on Monday. Other routine agenda items include discussions about regional security, cross-Taiwan Strait relations and arms sales.

Responding to reports about the upcoming talks, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian said Monday afternoon Beijing time that Taiwan was "the most important and sensitive issue in China-U.S. relations."

He repeated China's perennial call for Washington to "immediately stop all forms of official exchanges and military contacts with Taiwan." The statement, coming the day before the Biden-Xi summit, was brief and comparatively reserved.

The U.S. has had no formal diplomatic ties with Taipei since Washington normalized relations with Beijing in 1979, but a robust economic, cultural and security relationship nonetheless remains.

Under the Taiwan Relations Act of 1979, successive American administrations have been obliged to sell defensive articles to the democratic island in order to assist with its self-defense capabilities. The same legislation—supported by Biden when he was a senator—also asks that the U.S. maintain its own capabilities in the region, while directing the president and Congress to discuss and determine "appropriate action" in response to any threat to Taiwan or related U.S. interests.