Former U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo showed his support for Taiwan by munching on some Taiwanese dried pineapple, ahead of a possible visit to the self-governed sub-tropical island.
In a photo he recently posted on Twitter, the former state secretary was seen dressed in casual wear apparently contemplating his next move in front of a chess game. He had a piece of dried pineapple in one hand while holding a package of the dried fruit in the other.
“As a proponent of freedom, enjoying some Taiwanese dried pineapple. Checkmate,” he wrote in the tweet posted on Monday, Hong Kong time.
The tweet was interpreted as Pompeo’s support for Taiwan following Beijing’s ban on pineapple imports from the island. Hsiao Bi-khim, Taiwan’s representative to the U.S., confirmed to Taiwan’s state-owned Central News Agency that the packet of dried pineapple was a gift from her. “Glad that @mikepompeo likes Taiwanese dried pineapples which I have been sharing around town,” Hsiao tweeted in response.
Hsiao hosted Pompeo on March 31 at a meeting at the Twin Oaks in Washington, during which the two shared Taiwanese snacks including pineapple cakes and bubble tea. It was understood that it was their first meeting.
The label on the package showed that the dried fruit came from Tainan, Southwest Taiwan. “Greatest honor to know that you like the dried pineapple from Tainan, where [sic] is also the holy land of democracy and freedom in Taiwan. Cordially invite you to visit my city and enjoy the sweetest taste of pineapples and freedom,” Tainan Mayor Huang Wei-che said in response. He also jokingly said that he hoped Pompeo would not put on weight from consuming the dried pineapple, but he was thankful for Pompeo’s support and will consider sending more Taiwanese snacks such as dried pineapple and dried mango to the former state secretary.
The tweet also added weight to the idea that Pompeo may be planning a visit to the island.
Speaking at a Legislative Yuan meeting on Monday, Tien Chung-kwang, Taiwan’s deputy foreign affairs minister, admitted that the authorities have been “doing their best” to arrange the visit. When asked if Pompeo would be visiting Taiwan this year, Tien simply said “yes.”
Pompeo lifted the long-standing restrictions on contacts between U.S. and Taiwan officials in January while he was still the country’s secretary of state under President Donald Trump. The policy has not changed even after Joe Biden became president.
Pompeo voiced support for Taiwan on multiple occasions while he was a member of the Trump administration. He has been sanctioned by Beijing and barred from setting foot in China. Taiwan has expressed interests in inviting Pompeo to visit Taiwan and he responded in March saying that a trip to the island would be “a real treat.”
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