Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen will visit four Caribbean allies next week, a trip that will include four days in transit in the United States. Tsai will leave on July 11 for a 12-day visit in Haiti, St Kitts and Nevis, St Vincent and the Grenadines, and St Lucia, stopping in two US cities for two nights each on her way to Haiti and back from St Lucia. “The trip is aimed at actively promoting freedom and democracy in the region as the four Caribbean allies as well as the US that the president is going to visit and stop over in are like-minded countries which treasure freedom and democracy,” Taiwanese deputy foreign minister Miguel Tsao Li-jey said in Taipei on Monday. Tsao said Tsai would also use the trip to discuss cooperation plans with the four allies and ways to help them develop. He declined to name the American stopover cities, saying the US portion of the trip was still under discussion with the US. But Taiwanese news outlets reported that Tsai was likely to stop in New York and Denver. Tsai Ing-wen regains some ground but youth vote may hold the key to Taiwan’s election In Beijing, foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said it urged the United States “not to allow Tsai Ing-wen to transit, and cautiously and appropriately handle Taiwan-related issues, to avoid harming Sino-US relations and peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait”. The four Caribbean countries are among the 17 allies that still have official ties with Taipei – despite persistent diplomatic squeeze by Beijing. Beijing considers Taiwan a wayward province to be brought back into the mainland’s fold by force, if necessary. It has warned other countries, the US in particular, not to forge official ties and contacts with the self-ruled island. Tsai’s trip is the seventh since she was elected president in 2016 and comes in the run-up to January’s presidential election, in which she will seek a second term. This year also marks the 40th anniversary of the Taiwan Relations Act, which was introduced soon after the US switched diplomatic recognition from Taipei to Beijing and defines Washington’s continued commercial, cultural and military support for the island. Because of the act’s binding mandate, relations between the island and Washington have flourished. Those ties have strengthened since 2016 as US President Donald Trump has made Taiwan one of its Indo-Pacific security allies, permitting high-level official and military exchanges in addition to normalisation of arms deal procedures. Hong Kong’s extradition protests may have given Taiwan’s president, Tsai Ing-wen, a boost Beijing won’t appreciate Yen Chen-shen, a researcher at the Institute of International Relations at National Chengchi University, said Tsai was expected to use her stays in the US to further cement the island’s partnership with the US. Yen also said Tsai’s stops in the US were expected to further anger Beijing, which has already suspended official exchanges with the island over her refusal to accept the one-China principle since taking office. “But any angry reaction and moves by Beijing over her US stay would only help Tsai score points for her re-election campaign,” he said. Tsai’s popularity has risen due to her repeated reproaches of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s proposal for cross-strait unification under the “one country, two systems” model implemented in Hong Kong and Macau. Tsai’s sharp criticism of Hong Kong’s extradition bill issue has also won her great support among young Taiwanese people, lifting her approval rating which dipped below 20 per cent after her independence-leaning Democratic Progressive Party suffered its worst electoral defeat in November’s local government elections.