Taiwanese and U.S. officials are deliberately calling Tsai’s travel through New York and Los Angeles “transit” stops on her way to and from official, diplomatic engagements in Central America.
It’s a thinly veiled cover story for Tsai to carry out important, high-level meetings with American lawmakers and civil society, who view Taiwan’s survival as a democratic country as part of the vital national security interests of the United States.
Tsai’s “transit” through the U.S. includes a stop in New York before heading to official visits in Guatemala and Belize. Tsai will fly through California on her way back to Taiwan, where she is tentatively scheduled to meet with House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.).
Chinese officials have warned of “consequences” and “counter measures” if Tsai is welcomed by American lawmakers, in what U.S. officials expect to be a replay of Beijing carrying out military provocations in the Taiwan Strait, like those that occurred in retaliation for an August visit to the island by then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif).
“Engagement with the world is the oxygen that is needed for Taiwan’s survival,” said Patrick Cronin, Asia-Pacific security chairman at Hudson Institute, adding, “Tsai Ing-wen is determined not to let Beijing suffocate Taiwan.”
The Washington-based think tank presented Tsai with its Global Leadership Award at a ceremony in New York on Thursday evening.
Even as Tsai’s travel marks the seventh time she’s “transited” the U.S., Beijing’s retaliation against Pelosi’s visit has set up a “new normal” of harassment and escalation over engagement between Washington and Taipei, Cronin said.
“Why this transit is different from previous ones, is that the level of anxiety, a level of tension is just higher than it has been in the past,” he added.
Read more in a full report at TheHill.com.