The State Department said Friday it has issued new guidelines to encourage US government engagement with Taiwan in a sign of a deepening relationship, a move that is certain to irk China.
The guidelines "liberalize guidance on contacts with Taiwan, consistent with our unofficial relations," State Department spokesman Ned Price said, noting the guidance "underscores Taiwan is a vibrant democracy and an important security and economic partner."
The move comes as China continues what the US views as attempts to intimidate Taiwan, such as repeated military activities around the self-governed island.
Days before the end of the previous administration of Donald Trump in January, then Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced the State Department was repealing all self-imposed limits on contact with Taiwanese officials, including diplomats and military personnel.
According to Pompeo, internal restrictions had been imposed unilaterally to "appease" the Chinese government.
Taiwan and mainland China have been separately governed since they split in the wake of a civil war in 1949. Beijing considers Taiwan a renegade province awaiting reunification, by force if necessary. It has also been wary of any US moves that appear to be official contact with the island's government.
Washington switched its diplomatic recognition from Taipei to Beijing in 1979. It remains committed to unofficial relations with Taipei while continuing to assist the island in maintaining a sufficient self-defense capability.