US assistant secretary of commerce Suresh Kumar is scheduled to visit Taiwan next week, the highest-level American official to come to the island in over five years, its mission in Taipei said Friday.
Kumar will meet with Taiwan’s President Ma Ying-jeou and senior government officials as well as local business leaders in the visit, planned for Tuesday to Thursday, said the American Institute in Taiwan.
He will become the highest-level US official to visit Taiwan since deputy trade representative Karan Bhatia in May 2006, it said.
Washington switched diplomatic recognition from Taipei to Beijing in 1979 but has remained a key ally and a leading arms supplier to the island.
The triangular relationship between China, the United States and Taiwan was strained under the island’s former president Chen Shui-bian, who often irked Washington and Beijing with policies pushing for formal independence.
Ties have improved markedly after Ma took power in 2008 on a platform of promoting trade and reconciliation with former arch-rival China.
However, Beijing still considers Taiwan part of its territory awaiting reunification, by force if necessary, despite their split in 1949 after a civil war.