U.S. former top diplomat Pompeo, sanctioned by China, to visit Taiwan

Mike Pompeo, who riled China while in office, to visit Taiwan
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo gives a news conference about dealings with China and Iran, and on the fight against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, in Washington, U.S., June 24, 2020. Mangel Ngan/Pool via REUTERS/File Photo

TAIPEI, Feb 21 (Reuters) - Former U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, placed under sanctions by China when he left office at the end of the Trump presidency last year, will visit Taiwan next week and meet President Tsai Ing-wen, Taiwan's government said on Monday.

Taiwan's foreign ministry said Pompeo and his wife would visit the Chinese-claimed island from March 2-5, and also meet Foreign Minister Joseph Wu and give a speech at a think-tank.

"Former Secretary of State Pompeo is a long-term and staunch friend of Taiwan and made outstanding contributions to promoting Taiwan-U.S. relations during his time in office," the ministry said in a statement. His visit shows the bipartisan "rock solid" U.S. support for Taiwan and the close Taiwan-U.S. friendship, it added.

The Donald Trump administration gave strong backing to Taiwan, despite the lack of formal diplomatic ties, including high profile arms sales and visits of top U.S. officials to Taipei.

China put sanctions on "lying and cheating" Pompeo and 27 other top Trump-era officials as President Joe Biden took officein January 2021.

In Beijing, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin noted that Pompeo had been sanctioned by China due to his "anti-China actions". Taiwan will only "get burned" in its attempts to solicit support from the United States for its independence, he told reporters.

China has stepped up its military and diplomatic pressure against Taiwan over the past two years seeking to force the island to accept its sovereignty.

Taiwan's government says it wants peace but will defend itself if attacked, and that only the island's people have the right to decide their future.

Separately, Wang also announced sanctions on U.S. companies Lockheed Martin Corp (LMT.N) and Raytheon Technologies Corp (RTX.N) over U.S. arms sales to Taiwan, at least the third time it has announced punishments against the firms. read more

Reporting by Ben Blanchard Additional reporting by Emily Chow in Beijing Editing by Peter Graff

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