In New York, Taiwan’s leader says relations with the US are “closer than ever” | Government news

Beijing has condemned Taiween chief Tsai Ing-wen’s stop in the US, and a Chinese official has vowed to “respond”.

Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen praised the island’s ties with the United States during a stopover en route to Central America, a “crossover” condemned by Beijing.

During a closed address in New York on Wednesday night, Tsai said the relationship between Washington and Taipei was “closer than ever,” and described “significant progress” in economic and security cooperation, according to a statement from her office.

She praised Taiwan as a “beacon of democracy in Asia” and said the island would not be isolated despite the “enormous challenges” it faces.

“We have shown strong will and determination to defend ourselves, that we are able to manage risks with calm and equanimity and that we have the ability to maintain regional peace and stability,” Tsai said.

Among those present at the event were New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy and Laura Rosenberger, president of the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT), which runs the de facto US embassy in Taiwan.

Tsai is also scheduled to speak at a Hudson Institute think tank event on Thursday, sources told Reuters news agency, but all events are scheduled to be closed to the press and the public.

The pause comes as Tsai travels to Central America, where she will try to drum up support in Guatemala and Belize, part of a shrinking group of countries that recognize Taipei’s sovereignty from Beijing.

She is also scheduled to pass through Los Angeles, California, on her way home next week, where she is rumored to meet with Speaker of the United States House of Representatives Kevin McCarthy.

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Tsai’s trip comes days after Honduras forged ties with Beijing and ended its recognition of Taiwan, leaving the island with only 13 allies to maintain formal diplomatic relations.

Beijing maintains that Taiwan belongs to “one China” and that, as a province of China, it has no right to state-to-state relations. Taiwan is where the Nationalist Republic of China government fled in 1949, after its defeat by the Chinese Communist Party at the end of the country’s civil war.

Washington has not officially recognized Taiwan since it normalized relations with Beijing in 1979. However, the United States remains a valued ally, providing military training and equipment to the island.

In the lead-up to Tsai’s trip across the United States, White House national security spokesman John Kirby sought to downplay the transit to avoid tensions with China. He described her trip as “consistent with our longstanding informal relationship with Taiwan”.

On Wednesday, Kirby said, “There’s no reason — no one — that the Chinese are overreacting here.”

Daniel Kreitenbrink, the chief US diplomat for East Asian affairs, also noted that Tsai had passed through the US six times previously “without incident”.

However, Beijing has condemned Tsai’s stop in the United States. China’s Taiwan Affairs Office spokesman Zhu Fenglian said Wednesday that if Tsai meets with McCarthy, China will “definitely take measures to respond resolutely.”

Xu Xuyuan, charge d’affaires at China’s embassy in Washington, told reporters on Wednesday that the United States risked a “serious confrontation” if its leaders met with Tsai.

Referring to then-Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan in 2022, Xu warned against other US politicians following her example and meeting with Tsai.

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She said, “The United States constantly says that transit is not a visit and that there are precedents, but we should not use the mistakes of the past as excuses to repeat them today.”

Pelosi’s trip to Taiwan last year prompted Beijing to hold military exercises and fire missiles in the Taiwan Strait for several days. She was the highest ranking US official to visit Taiwan in 25 years.

The expected meeting between McCarthy and Tsai in California has been framed as less diplomatically risky than Pelosi’s trip to Taiwan. However, such a meeting would mark the first time that a Taiwanese leader had met the Speaker of the House of Representatives on US soil.

As of Thursday, Taipei said the stopover in New York had not caused any unusual military actions by China.

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