The United States invited Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen to Washington for the first time to attend a meeting of the U.S.-sponsored Brookings Institution later this month, the Washington Free Beacon has reported.
Last year, the U.S. angered Taiwan by refusing to invite its leader to the ceremony when President Obama honored the victims of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
The invitation will be among the topics discussed when Tsai visits the United States for the annual “Summit for Democracy” on May 21-22. Representatives from the U.S. and 50 other countries are expected to attend the gathering at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center.
The event was first used as a means of reaching out to countries in eastern Europe — Russia, Armenia, Romania and other new democracies — under President George W. Bush’s administration. The current Summit, themed around “gathering strength against the authoritarian tide of the 21st century,” will focus on speaking out against the rise of authoritarian regimes across the world.
Tsai, who took office last year following a contentious election, has come under pressure from Beijing to choose a side in the U.S.-China relationship, and Beijing’s rapidly-expanding military activities and ongoing cyberattacks against American institutions are perceived as important national security concerns.
The Summit could be used as an opportunity for Washington to remind Taiwan that its security interests are more closely tied to U.S. military assets, like the U.S. Navy’s carrier strike group, than to Beijing.
Tsai’s visit will also be seen as an opportunity for the U.S. to signal that it is a staunch ally of Taiwan, which China claims is part of its sovereign territory.
“Tsai Ing-wen’s visit provides an opportunity for President Obama to dispel the underlying self-conceit that [China] views the U.S. as a ‘loyal’ power,” says Evan A. Medeiros, a former National Security Council senior director for Asian affairs, in a commentary on FP’s website.
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