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Taiwan’s Tsai Planned Transit in the US Angers China

Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen speaks on the phone with US president-elect Donald Trump at her office in Taipei, Taiwan, in this handout photo made available December 3, 2016. Credit: Reuters

Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen speaks on the phone with US president-elect Donald Trump at her office in Taipei, Taiwan, in this handout photo made available December 3, 2016. Credit: Reuters

Taipei: Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen will pass through the US when she visits Latin America next month, the foreign ministry said Thursday, a move bound to infuriate China which had urged the US to block a transit stopover.

China is deeply suspicious of Tsai, who it thinks wants to push for the formal independence of Taiwan, a self-governing island that Beijing regards as a renegade province, ineligible for state-to-state relations.

Details of the stopovers will be disclosed before the end of this week, the ministry said.

China said Tsai’s intentions were clear and urged the US not to let her in.

“We hope the US can abide by the ‘one China’ policy…and not let her pass through their border, not give any false signals to Taiwan independence forces, and through concrete actions safeguard overall US China relations and peace and stability in the Taiwan strait,” Hua Chunying, a Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman, told a briefing in Beijing.

The transit details are being closely watched as Taiwan media has speculated Tsai will seek to meet President-elect Donald Trump’s transition team ahead of his January 20 inauguration.

Trump angered China when he spoke to Tsai this month in a break with decades of precedent and cast doubt on his incoming administration’s commitment to Beijing’s “one China” policy.

The US, which switched diplomatic recognition from Taiwan to China in 1979, has acknowledged the Chinese position that there is only “one China” and that Taiwan is part of it.

Tsai’s office earlier this month said she would visit Honduras, Nicaragua, Guatemala and El Salvador in that order. She will leave Taiwan on January 7 and return on January 15.

Taiwan had as many as 30 diplomatic allies in the mid-1990s, but now has formal relations with just 21, mostly smaller and poorer nations in Latin America and the Pacific.

The American Institute in Taiwan, the de facto embassy of the US, had no immediate comment on Tsai’s itinerary.