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Taiwan President to Travel Through US Despite China’s Protests


Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen speaks with U.S. President-elect Donald Trump through a speaker phone in Taipei, Taiwan. (Taiwan Presidential Office via AP)

Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen will travel through Houston and San Francisco during her January visit to allies in Latin America, her office said Friday, a move bound to anger China, which a day earlier urged the U.S. to block any stopover.

Tsai’s office declined to comment on whether she would be meeting members of U.S. President-elect Donald Trump’s team, but the U.S. mission in Taiwan, the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT), said the visit would be “private and unofficial.”

Trump angered China when he spoke to Tsai this month in a break with decades of precedent and cast doubt on his incoming administration’s commitment to Beijing’s “one China” policy.

Latin Americas stopovers

China is deeply suspicious of Tsai, who it thinks wants to push for the formal independence of Taiwan, a self-governing island that Beijing regards as a renegade province, ineligible for state-to-state relations.

The United States, which switched diplomatic recognition from Taiwan to China in 1979, has acknowledged the Chinese position that there is only “one China” and that Taiwan is part of it.

Tsai is traveling through the United States on her way to and from visiting Honduras, Nicaragua, Guatemala and El Salvador in that order. She will leave Taiwan January 7 and return January 15.

Tsai will arrive in Houston January 7 and leave the following day. On her return, she will arrive in San Francisco January 13, Presidential Office spokesman Alex Huang told a regular news briefing.

'One China' policy intact

The AIT said the travel plans did not contradict the “one China” policy.

“President Tsai’s transit through the United States is based on long-standing U.S. practice and is consistent with the unofficial nature of our relations with Taiwan,” Alys Spensley, acting AIT spokeswoman, told Reuters.

“There is no change to the U.S. ‘one China’ policy,” she added.

China has claimed sovereignty over Taiwan since 1949, when Mao Zedong’s Communist forces won the Chinese civil war and Chiang Kai-shek’s Nationalists fled to the island.

Taiwan had as many as 30 diplomatic allies in the mid-1990s, but now has formal relations with just 21, mostly smaller and poorer nations in Latin America and the Pacific and including the Vatican.

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