Taiwan leader challenges China over US visit – Reuters

President Tsai Ing-wen has dismissed Beijing’s threat of retaliation as she embarks on her journey to the Americas

Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen embarked on a 10-day trip to the United States and Latin America after vowing that the self-governing island will continue to engage with countries around the world and not be intimidated by threats of Chinese retaliation .

“External pressure will not hinder our determination to go out to the world”, Tsai told reporters on Wednesday, just before boarding her flight to New York. “We are calm and confident, we will not give in or provoke.”

Tsai made his comments after a spokeswoman for the Taiwan Affairs Office in Beijing, Zhu Fenglian, warned that the visit would escalate tensions between China and her breakaway province if the Taiwanese leader meets with US officials during her travels. “If she has any contact with the Speaker of the United States House [Kevin] McCarthy, it will be another provocation that seriously violates the one-China principle, undermines China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, and destroys peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait. We strongly oppose it and will certainly take steps to resolutely fight back.

The Taiwanese president would travel to Belize and Guatemala after making her first stop in New York. She should then stop in Los Angeles before returning to Taiwan. Government officials in Taipei told the Financial Times earlier this month that Tsai would meet McCarthy — the top Republican and third person in the US government — while she’s in California.

“Taiwan will firmly walk the path of freedom and democracy and go out into the world,” Tsai said Wednesday. “Although this road is difficult, Taiwan is not alone.”

Belize and Guatemala are among 13 countries in the world that recognize Taiwan as a separate nation and have full diplomatic relations with the island. Another Latin American country, Hondurastough diplomatic ties with Taiwan this week so he can establish ties with China.

Relations between Beijing and Taipei have waned since last August, when McCarthy’s predecessor as US House Speaker, Nancy Pelosi, visited Taiwan in defiance of warnings from Chinese officials. China responded by launching unprecedented military exercises in the Taiwan Strait and cutting defense and climate ties with the United States.

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