Peter Berkowitz, director of policy planning at the State Department, reaffirmed U.S. support for Taiwan’s freedom and independence at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD) virtual event, regarding the challenges posed by the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) global ambitions.

“It seems to me preserving Taiwan’s freedom and independence is a priority,” Berkowitz said at the virtual meeting, where he said both the State Department and the Defense Department have long been thinking about ways to support the democratic country.

Berkowitz’s remarks come at a time when concerns about an eventual attack by the CCP on Taiwan are increasing given the constant pressure from the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) through military exercises around the island.

While Berkowitz made no direct mention of any defense proposals or plans to be implemented jointly with the island, the comments will likely cause the Chinese Communist Party to be uneasy, given the constant pressure it exerts on other countries not to recognize Taiwan as a sovereign country.

The State Department’s director of policy planning shared his comments just one day after Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen unveiled efforts to build submarines to help repel a PLA invasion.

“The construction demonstrates Taiwan’s strong will to the world to protect its sovereignty,” Tsai said Tuesday, Nov. 24, from Taipei. “Submarines are important equipment for the development of Taiwan’s navy’s asymmetric warfare capabilities and to deter enemy ships from encircling Taiwan,” she added.

According to the Washington Examiner, since 1979 the United States has maintained diplomatic relations with the CCP but has maintained unofficial friendly relations with Taiwan and provided it with defensive weaponry to deter any attack on the island from the CCP wishing to annex its territory.

President Donald Trump’s administration has given significant support to Taiwan’s defense by approving a steady flow of arms sales, and the most recent agreement included the sale of a large batch of coastal defense cruise missiles to attack invading ships.

Meanwhile, on Nov. 9, a group of U.S. Marines arrived in Taiwan to begin a joint military operation to prepare Taiwanese military personnel for combat for the first time in more than 40 years.

By Nov. 21, U.S.-Taiwanese bilateral relations made another breakthrough after the U.S.-Taiwan Partnership for Economic Prosperity (PEP) Dialogue was held in Washington, D.C. to strengthen economic relations between the two democracies.

From his Twitter account, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced, “The United States and Taiwan are strong partners in defending freedom, advancing economic ties, and promoting our shared democratic values. The American Institute in Taiwan Economic Prosperity Partnership Dialogue strengthens our economic relationship even further.”