Taiwan president plans ‘transit’ in Los Angeles, New York–government minister
TAIPEI — Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen plans to stop off in Los Angeles and New York as part of a visit to Central America, a government minister said on Thursday, a sensitive itinerary Tsai’s office has yet to confirm.
Tsai plans to meet U.S. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy in the United States, according to sources, and McCarthy confirmed to U.S. media this week he would meet her this year.
China, which views Taiwan as its own territory, said on Wednesday it was “seriously concerned” by Tsai’s “transit” plans and had asked Washington for clarification.
Taiwan’s presidents, including Tsai, have a record of traveling through the U.S. en route to other countries, usually for a day or two, though the U.S. government has generally avoided meeting senior Taiwanese officials in Washington.
Asked by a lawmaker in parliament about Tsai’s arrangements for meeting with overseas Taiwanese while she is abroad, minister of the Overseas Community Affairs Council Hsu Chia-ching said it was confirmed one of these events would happen in New York.
There would be four such meetings with overseas Taiwanese, including in the Central American countries Tsai would be visiting, Hsu said, answering “yes” when Guatemala and Belize were mentioned, both of which have diplomatic ties with Taiwan.
“On the west coast it’s most likely Los Angeles, but Los Angeles is very big so we don’t know in which area,” Hsu said, adding she would be part of the delegation going on the trip.
Taiwan’s presidential office declined to confirm any travel arrangements.
“We are still planning the president’s schedule. As soon as details are finalized we will make them public,” it said in response to a question from Reuters.
On Wednesday, the presidential office said “transit arrangements” had been in place for many years, though it did not directly mention the United States.
The trip is likely to take place next month, sources have told Reuters.
Taiwan is a constant source of friction between Beijing and Washington. China staged military exercises around Taiwan in August following a visit to Taipei by then-U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
Taiwan’s government says the People’s Republic of China has never ruled the island and so has no right to claim it, and that only its 23 million people can decide their future.