Taiwanese Vice-President William Lai Ching-te has held virtual talks with US politicians during his transit stay in the United States en route to Honduras , despite warnings from Beijing. Lai departed on Tuesday for a six-day trip in which he will attend Thursday’s inauguration of Honduran president-elect Xiomara Castro as a special envoy of Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen, aimed at bolstering relations with the Central American country. He had seven video conferences with American politicians from his hotel after arriving in Los Angeles on Tuesday morning local time, Taiwanese media reported on Wednesday. On landing, he was greeted in person by James Moriarty, chairman of the American Institute in Taiwan – the US’ top envoy in charge of exchanges with the island. “[Lai] had just one hour’s rest at the hotel and started his first meeting with US members of Congress via video link at 9am, and by the end of the morning he had already talked with 17,” the semi-official Central News Agency (CNA) reported. It said the lawmakers he spoke to included Democrat Senator Ed Markey and Republican Representative John Curtis, who had proposed the 2019 Taiwan Allies International Protection and Enhancement Initiative Act. The legislation requires the US State Department to report to Congress the steps it takes to strengthen Taiwan’s diplomatic ties in the Indo-Pacific and alter US engagement with nations that undermine Taiwan’s security or prosperity. Lai also spoke to Republican congressmen Tom Tiffany and Scott Perry, who recently wrote to Vice-President Kamala Harris urging her to meet Lai on the sidelines of the Honduran inauguration, which she is due to attend, CNA reported. There had been hopes in Taipei that Lai could meet Harris to signal a further deepening of ties with Washington, which switched its diplomatic recognition to Beijing in 1979. Quoting unnamed US officials, a Reuters report on Tuesday said there would be no formal meeting between the two, because it would anger Beijing. According to CNA, Lai talked to ethnic Taiwanese US congressman Ted Lieu, ethnic Chinese congresswoman Judy Chu, ethnic Korean congresswoman Young Kim, and Democratic Representative Mark Takano, who led a congressional delegation to meet Tsai in Taipei in November. Details of the contents of the talks were not revealed. CNA quoted Lee Chun-yi – the deputy secretary general of the presidential office, who accompanied Lai – as saying that the meetings focused on US-Taiwan relations and growing threats posed by Beijing. Beijing considers self-ruled Taiwan its territory, which must be taken under its control by force if necessary. It has warned other countries against having official contact with the island. Last Thursday, Beijing said Lai’s US transit breached Washington’s one-China policy. “China has always firmly opposed the United States – or other countries that have established diplomatic relations with China – arranging such transits, and has always opposed any form of official exchanges with Taiwan,” foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said. CNA reported that Lai also had an online meeting with ethnic Taiwanese leaders in Los Angeles, and would remain in his hotel because of the Covid-19 pandemic. Lai was expected to leave for Honduras on Wednesday, before stopping over in San Francisco on Saturday on the return journey to Taiwan. Castro had suggested during her campaign that she would switch her country’s official diplomatic recognition from Taipei to Beijing, but she has backtracked since winning the presidential election in November – reportedly after persuasion from the US to maintain ties with Taiwan. Latin America has been a key diplomatic battleground for Beijing and Taipei since the civil war between the two sides ended in 1949. Beijing, which has spent decades encouraging Taiwan’s allies to switch allegiance, is also jostling with the US for influence in the region. Last month, Nicaragua became the latest nation to break off ties with Taiwan, leaving it with 14 allies.