China closely watching Taiwan president’s stopover in US

Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen leaves a hotel in New York, Wednesday, March 29, 2023. (AP Photo/Yuki Iwamura)

China warned that it was closely monitoring Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen’s visit to the U.S. after she arrived in New York on Wednesday, saying it would “resolutely safeguard our sovereignty and territorial integrity.”

“China firmly opposes any form of official interaction between the U.S. and Taiwan,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mao Ning told reporters at a daily briefing on Thursday. “China will continue to closely follow the situation and resolutely safeguard our sovereignty and territorial integrity.”

Tsai will travel from New York to Central America, and then she is expected to make another stop in California next week on her way back to Asia.

In California, she is slated to meet with Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.). The meeting between the two is not officially confirmed. McCarthy holds the highest office in the House, is the highest GOP officeholder in the country and is second in line to the presidency after Vice President Harris.

China claims Taiwan, a self-governing democracy of 23 million people, as part of its territory. The U.S. dynamic with Taiwan, of which it is one of the chief military supporters, is one of the most divisive issues in American-Chinese relations. 

The stopover in the U.S. by Tsai comes after then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) made a trip to Taiwan last year, sparking a response from China that included the launching of missiles, deployment of warships and the restriction of official communications with the U.S.

Tsai said that the visit to the U.S. and Central America is meant to thank “democratic partners” for supporting Taiwan.

“By making this trip, I want to thank our democratic partners for supporting Taiwan,” Tsai said in remarks on Wednesday. “I also want to tell the world that democratic Taiwan stands firm in defense of our values of freedom and democracy. We will continue to act as a force for good in the international community, to continue the virtuous cycle, and to strengthen democratic resilience worldwide.”

Tsai embarks on the visit as a dwindling number of countries officially recognize the nation diplomatically. Earlier this week, Honduras shifted its diplomatic relations to Beijing, leaving just 13 countries that have formal ties to Taiwan. The U.S. maintains only unofficial relations with Taiwan.

Tags China Kevin McCarthy Kevin McCarthy Nancy Pelosi Taiwan Tsai Ing-wen Tsai Ing-Wen

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