Taipei, Jan 20, 2021 – Taiwan’s de facto ambassador in Washington attended the inauguration of U.S. President Joe Biden, hearting the Chinese-claimed island which has been nervous it would not win the same level of support from the new government as the previous one.

Former President Donald Trump’s administration ramped up support for Taiwan, increasing arms sales and sending senior officials to Taipei, angering China and stirring even greater enmity from Beijing towards Washington.

That had made Trump a popular figure in democratic Taiwan, which China views as its own territory, to be taken by force if needed.

Taiwan’s Foreign Ministry said Hsiao Bi-khim, Taiwan’s representative in Washington and who is close to Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen, attended Wednesday’s swearing in.

“The first-ever invitation to Taiwan’s representative to the U.S. to attend the Inaugural Ceremonies, the most significant event celebrating U.S. democracy, highlights the close and cordial ties between Taiwan and the United States based on shared values,” it said.

The United States ended formal diplomatic ties with Taiwan in 1979, switching recognition to China, though Washington is bound by law to provide Taiwan with the means to defend itself.

In a video message on her Twitter account, Hsiao said she was honoured to be there representing Taiwan’s government and people.

“Democracy is our common language and freedom is our common objective. I look forward to working with the next administration in advancing our mutual values and interests,” she said, speaking in English.

Tsai sent her congratulations too, saying she hoped the two sides could work together to maintain regional democracy, freedom, peace and stability, Taiwan’s presidential office said.

Biden’s nominee for secretary of state, Antony Blinken, said on Tuesday he was in favour of greater engagement with Taiwan.

Tsai met Blinken in 2015 at the State Department when he was deputy secretary of state and she was the presidential candidate for Taiwan’s Democratic Progressive Party. – Reuters