Taiwan president Tsai’s transit through US expected to anger China

Stopover expected to ratchet up tension following call to US president-elect

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 29 December, 2016, 1:33pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 29 December, 2016, 11:24pm

Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen will pass through the United States when she visits Latin America next month, the foreign ministry said on Thursday, in a move expected to infuriate China which had urged the United States to block a transit stopover.

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.

Details of the stopovers will be disclosed before the end of this week, the ministry said.

The transit details are being closely watched as Taiwan media has speculated Tsai would seek to meet President-elect Donald Trump’s transition team ahead of his January 20 inauguration.

Taiwan says Beijing pressure not delaying Tsai Ing-wen’s Latin America trip plans

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.

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’s office earlier this month said she would visit Honduras, Nicaragua, Guatemala and El Salvador in that order. She will leave Taiwan on January 7 and return on January 15.

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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.

The American Institute in Taiwan, the de facto embassy of the United States, had no immediate comment on Tsai’s itinerary.