TAIPEI—Taiwan’s de facto ambassador to the U.S. overcame four decades of precedent when she accepted a formal invitation to attend President Joe Biden’s inauguration, calming fears on the self-ruled island that U.S. support would erode in the post-Trump era.
Bi-khim Hsiao, Taipei’s top representative in the U.S., tweeted a video of herself standing in front of the U.S. Capitol building ahead of Mr. Biden’s inauguration on Tuesday, saying she was honored to attend the ceremony.
“Democracy is our common language and freedom is our common objective,” she said.
Ms. Hsiao’s attendance at the behest of the Biden administration marked the first time Taiwan was officially represented at a presidential swearing in since Washington transferred diplomatic recognition from Taipei to Beijing in 1979, according to Taiwan’s Foreign Ministry. In a tweet, the departing chairman of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Idaho Republican Jim Risch, applauded the incoming White House for the invitation.
Beijing sees Taiwan as part of Chinese territory and regards U.S. interactions with the democratic, self-ruled island as one of the most sensitive issues in bilateral relations with Washington. Chinese leaders were taken aback four years ago when then U.S. president-elect Donald Trump accepted a congratulatory phone call from Taiwanese president Tsai Ing-wen.