Joe Biden offers Taiwan invite to US Pacific Islands summit

The Republican former senator Joe Biden has invited Taiwan to join him in a summit of 21 Pacific democracies in Hawaii this May, further raising tensions between the US and China.

Biden tweeted: “I look forward to working with POTUS as he leads the US delegation to the Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit in August. I hope leaders from both Taiwan and PAPO [Republic of China] are invited as well.”

The invitation comes amid growing tension between China and US over US plans to meet the Nationalist party leader, Chiang Kai-shek, at a US army base in Hawaii next month. The invitation to China to attend the summit has been decried by critics as an attempt to undermine Beijing’s claims in the South China Sea.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang accused Biden of meddling in China’s internal affairs and harming peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific region.

“The invitation of Taiwan as an outsider to a shared 21st century global identity to the APEC summit venue is not conducive to the party of peace and stability, it does not contribute to the development of relations between the US and China and it serves only as a new shenanigan to besmirch China’s name,” Geng said.

The US is Taiwan’s most important ally and largest arms supplier, although the island has been self-governing since 1949 after its defeated Nationalist government fled to Taiwan from the mainland following the civil war.

Delegates meet at a two-day regional summit in Tampere, Finland, in 2001. The meeting was intended to foster closer economic and political relations between Asian countries, but did not formally acknowledge the reality of an independent state. Photograph: Dirk Hogstrom/AFP/Getty Images

The governments of Washington and Taipei have ramped up military and diplomatic engagement in recent years. Washington has renewed arms sales to Taiwan and restored diplomatic relations, and there has been a series of political and trade announcements to strengthen political and economic ties.

China last month rejected Biden’s engagement proposal, saying it wasn’t in the best interests of Taiwan. Taiwan’s Democratic Progressive party has recently called for independence.

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