The United States is ending restrictions on official contacts with Taiwan, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Saturday.
The declaration may be more symbolic than substantive in effect, but it nonetheless appears certain to upset China, which sees Taiwan as its own territory.
Taiwan’s government welcomed the move.
“For several decades the State Department has created complex internal restrictions to regulate our diplomats, service members, and other officials’ interactions with their Taiwanese counterparts,” Mr Pompeo said.
“The United States government took these actions unilaterally, in an attempt to appease the Communist regime in Beijing. No more.”
He said executive branch agencies should consider all previous State Department guidelines concerning relations with Taiwan to be “null and void”.
“Our two democracies share common values of individual freedom, the rule of law, and a respect for human dignity,” Mr Pompeo said. “The US-Taiwan relationship need not, and should not, be shackled by self-imposed restrictions of our permanent bureaucracy.”
The decision comes in the final weeks of President Donald Trump’s administration.