No cabinet-level U.S. official has visited Taiwan since Clinton administration Transportation Secretary Rodney Slater in 2000, but Taipei is hoping to change that with an invitation to Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki:
Representatives of Taiwan's Veterans Affairs Commission recently met
Shinseki in the United States to extend the invitation, said Hans Song,
the commission's overseas liaison department director.
Taiwan's commission, which was founded in 1954 when Taiwan stood on
the brink of war with China, has modeled itself on its U.S. counterpart
and has used U.S. money to build hospitals.
"Because the Taiwan veterans system has studied the U.S. system, we hope he can give us some suggestions," Song said.
Shinseki is also just prominent to be counted as a diplomatic victory for the KMT government, but perhas not prominent enough to anger China too much. Shinseki is still mulling the decision apparently.
It does seem a little strange that the U.S. is apparently willing to invoke China's wrath by selling $421 million in missiles to Taiwan, but a short stop-over from a high-ranking cabinet official would be considered a brazenly provocative act.