efe-epaTaipei

Taiwan and the United States on Tuesday announced a new dialogue mechanism aimed at promoting democracy and human rights in the Indo-Pacific region.

The Indo-Pacific Democratic Governance Consultations, which would include annual meetings between high-ranking officials, come after a jointly organized forum on religious liberty in the Indo-Pacific and are set to consolidate the growing interaction between the two countries.

Taiwanese Foreign Minister Joseph Wu and the de-facto US ambassador to Taiwan, Brent Christensen, announced the initiative in Taipei on Tuesday and said the mechanism did not seek a confrontation with China and was aimed at fostering democracy in the region.

Christensen said it was possible to have a good relationship with both Taiwan and China.

Despite not maintaining formal diplomatic ties with Taiwan, the US is the main international ally of Taipei as well as its principal defense equipment supplier, and Washington has approved a number of laws in recent years to boost bilateral ties.

On Dec. 31, President Donald Trump signed the Asia Reassurance Initiative Act, which supports strengthening political and economic ties with Taiwan and providing support to counter any attempts to change the status quo in the Taiwan Strait, which includes the maintenance of Taiwanese autonomy against China.

The ARIA initiative followed the approval of the Taiwan Travel Act at the beginning of 2018, which allowed visits to be made by senior Taiwanese and American officials to each other's territory.

After President Tsai Ing-wen - who has refused to acknowledge Taiwan as a part of China - assumed office in 2016, Taipei has intensified diplomatic efforts, especially its ties with Washington.

Beijing suspended official communication with Taiwan after Tsai's defiant stand and intensified its diplomatic siege and military intimidation of Taiwan.

China has been poaching Taiwan's allies as a pressure tactic to undermine its morale and isolate it globally and force it to adhere to the "One-China" principle: recognizing Beijing's sovereignty over the island.

Taiwan currently maintains official ties with just 17 countries, of which nine are in Latin America and the Caribbean.