Tsai Ing-wen plans to visit allies in Central America later this month, making two unofficial stops in the United States.
The office of Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen revealed that she will be making unofficial stops in the United States as she travels to visit two Central American AlliesGuatemala and Belize.
But following Tuesday’s announcement, the administration of US President Joe Biden sought to emphasize the “personal” nature of the arrests, in order to avoid an escalation tensions with China.
“These are called transits,” National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said of the planned U.S. shutdowns. “Not uncommon. President Tsai has done this six times. Every Taiwanese president in recent memory has done this.
Speaking at a press conference on Tuesday, Kirby dismissed questions that the administration might try to downplay any visit. “It’s not about minimizing. It’s about being factual,” he told reporters.
The United States, like the vast majority of the world, has no official relations with Taiwan, favoring the maintenance of diplomatic relations with China, which considers the island part of its territory.
China opposes state-to-state relations between the self-governing island and other nations, and earlier this month Honduras signaled it would likely sever diplomatic relations with Taiwan for build a relationship with China.
If this were to happen, the number of official diplomatic allies of Taiwan would drop to 13.
Nevertheless, China criticized the United States for maintaining unofficial relations with the island, including across the sale of military weapons and equipment.
On Tuesday, China’s Foreign Ministry condemned President Tsai’s planned trip, warning it disapproves of any contact between the US and Taiwanese governments.
“We again warn the Taiwanese authorities that there is no way out for Taiwanese independence, and any illusions about attempts to collude with outside forces to seek independence and provocation are doomed to ‘failure,’ spokesman Wang Wenbin said.
He also criticized Germany for its visit of the minister of education in Taiwan this week, calling the demonstration trip “vile conduct.” Germany, like the United States, has no formal relations with Taiwan and has refuted claims that the visit violated the “One China” principle.
In an attempt to assuage diplomatic concerns, the Biden administration stressed on Tuesday that President Tsai’s stops in the United States would be “unofficial” and “business as usual.”
“There is no reason for China to overreact,” Kirby told reporters. “Damn, there’s no reason for them to react. It’s something that, as I said, is commonplace.
But news of Tsai’s stops in the United States has increased speculation that he intends to meet Speaker Kevin McCarthyTHE republican leader in the United States House of Representatives.
McCarthy was rumored to be planning a visit to Taiwan, echoing a similar trip taken by the previous speaker of the House, Democrat Nancy Pelosi. Her brief appearance last August, alongside five other members of the Democratic Party, made her the highest-ranking U.S. official visiting the island since 1997.
But it is also aroused outrage of China, which carried out military exercises around the island, even drop missiles off its coast.
Tsai’s visit to the United States could provide McCarthy with an alternative to an equally sensitive trip to Taiwan. But when pressed about the prospect of a meeting between the two officials, Taiwan’s Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Yui avoided confirming any plans, instead saying details would be revealed on a date. later.
Tsai is due to travel to 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 to Los Angeles on April 5, to the state of California, McCarthy’s home.