Taiwan president plans travel through United States in poke at China


02 January, 2017

China has urged the United States not to allow the Taiwan president Tsai Ing-wen to transit through US.

Trump seemed to upend decades of United States policy this month when he took a congratulatory phone call from Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen.

"We hope this does not reflect a policy choice by Beijing, but must say such conduct has hurt the feelings of the Taiwanese people and destabilized cross-strait relations".

China considers Taiwan a breakaway province, while the Taiwanese constitution claims its territory includes mainland China.

The talk of Tsai's US stopovers has already rattled Sino-US relations, and Beijing might take tough measures, including military threats, over a face-to-face meeting between her and Trump.

"We adhere to peaceful development, and resolutely safeguard our territorial sovereignty and maritime rights and interests", Xi said, in comments carried by state media late on Saturday.

"Relations with Taiwan are good, in excellent condition as always", Panama's Deputy Foreign Minister Luis Miguel Hincapie said in an interview.

But such a policy could provide economic advantages for Taiwan's export-dependent half-trillion-dollar economy, long-term access to senior USA officials and more sales of advanced US weapons to defend against China.

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Since the mid-1990s, nearly a third of Taiwan's allies have broken ties.

Taiwan will push for closer ties with India and other countries in Southeast Asia that recognize China over Taiwan, Tsai said Saturday. He is thought to be in regular contact with China's most senior military officers, including those who work directly with China's leadership.

Tsai's office declined to comment on whether she would be meeting members of president-elect Donald Trump's team ahead of his January 20 inauguration, but the USA mission in Taiwan said the visit would be "private and unofficial".

Trump also accepted a December 2 phone call from Tsai, the first time an American president or president-elect has publicly spoken to Taiwan's leader since 1979.

"There is no change to the U.S. "one China" policy", she added.

"We promise not to change our position and our good intentions, but we will not give in to any pressure, we are unlikely to return to the confrontation [with China]", Tsai said as quoted by the Central News Agency.

Spensley said Tsai's transits would be "private and unofficial".

Defeated Nationalist forces fled to Taiwan in 1949 at the end of a Chinese civil war and Beijing has never renounced the use of force to bring Taiwan under its control.

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