June 19, 2024

Brighton Journal

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President of Taiwan announces his visit to the Americas, which raises concerns | Government news

President of Taiwan announces his visit to the Americas, which raises concerns |  Government news

Tsai Ing-wen plans to visit allies in Central America at the end of the month, making two unofficial stops in the United States.

Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen’s office has revealed that she will make an unofficial stopover in the United States while she travels to visit two Central American allies, Guatemala and Belize.

But in the wake of Tuesday’s announcement, US President Joe Biden’s administration has sought to emphasize the “personal” nature of the pauses, in a bid to avoid an escalation of tensions with China.

“These are called transit operations,” National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said of the planned US stops. “Not a repeat. President Tsai has done it six times. Every Taiwanese president in recent memory has done it.”

Speaking at a news conference Tuesday, Kirby dismissed questions that the administration might be trying to downplay any visits. “It’s not about downplaying the importance. It’s about being realistic,” he told reporters.

The United States, like the vast majority of the world, does not have official relations with Taiwan, in favor of maintaining diplomatic relations with China, which considers the island part of its territory.

China opposes relations between the self-governing island country and other countries, and earlier this month Honduras indicated that it would likely cut diplomatic ties with Taiwan to establish a relationship with China.

If that happens, the number of official diplomatic allies for Taiwan will drop to 13.

However, China has criticized the United States for maintaining unofficial relations with the island, including through the sale of weapons and military equipment.

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China’s foreign ministry on Tuesday denounced President Tsai’s visit, warning that she did not approve of any contact between the governments of the United States and Taiwan.

Taiwan spokesman Wang Wenbin said: “We warn the Taiwan authorities once again that there is no way out for Taiwan independence, and any illusions about attempts to collude with outside forces to seek independence and provoke are doomed to fail.”

He also criticized Germany for its education minister’s visit to Taiwan this week, describing the trip as evidence of “despicable behaviour”. Germany, like the United States, has no official relations with Taiwan, and has refuted allegations that the visit violated the “One China” principle.

In an effort to allay diplomatic concerns, the Biden administration confirmed on Tuesday that President Tsai’s stop in the US would be “unofficial” and “business as usual.”

“There is no reason for China to overreact,” Kirby told reporters. “Heck, there’s no reason for them to respond. This is something that, like I said, is common.”

But news of Tsai’s hiatus from working in the United States added to speculation that she plans to meet with Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy, the ranking Republican in the US House of Representatives.

It was rumored that McCarthy was planning to visit Taiwan, echoing a similar trip by the former Speaker of the House, Democrat Nancy Pelosi. Her brief appearance last August, along with five other members of the Democratic Party, made her the highest-ranking US official to visit the island since 1997.

But it has also infuriated China, which has embarked on military maneuvers across the island, even dropping missiles from its shores.

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Tsai’s visit to the United States may provide McCarthy with an alternative to a sensitive trip to Taiwan. But when pressed about a possible meeting between the officials, Taiwan’s Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Yue avoided confirming any plans, saying instead that details would be revealed at a later date.

Tsai is scheduled to be in New York on March 30 en route to Central America, according to her spokesperson Lin Yu-chan. She is also expected to make her return trip through Los Angeles on April 5, in McCarthy’s home state of California.