US mission in Taiwan braces for possible WikiLeaks release

TAIPEI, November 30, 2010 (AFP) - The United States' de facto embassy in Taiwan condemned WikiLeaks Tuesday ahead of the possible release of thousands of documents laying bare the US relationship with the contested island.

WikiLeaks says it has obtained 3,456 cables originating from the American Institute in Taiwan, the body authorised by Washington to handle civil contacts with Taipei after it switched diplomatic recognition to Beijing in 1979.

It was unclear whether these would be released as part of a series of disclosures of confidential US diplomatic communications that have already left diplomats around the world red-faced.

"We condemn the unauthorised disclosure of classified documents," AIT spokesman Christopher Kavanagh told AFP.

Taiwanese legislator Lin Yu-fang warned that he feared the documents, if released, "may cause misunderstanding and even negative impacts on bilateral ties".

The documents from AIT include 136 classified as "secret", 1,425 "confidential" and the rest "unclassified", WikiLeaks said in a listing on its website.

The United States remains the leading arms supplier to Taiwan despite a lack of diplomatic ties.
Taiwan and China split in 1949 at the end of a civil war, but Beijing still sees the island as part of its territory awaiting reunification, by force if necessary.