China urges US to block Taiwan leader's Hawaii stopover

March 22, 2019 09:19
Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen will transit via Hawaii on her way home from an eight-day visit to Palau, Nauru and the Marshall Islands. Photo: Reuters

China urged the United States not to allow Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen to stop over in Hawaii next week when she makes a tour of the island’s diplomatic allies in the Pacific, Reuters reports.

Beijing has lodged “stern representations” with Washington over Tsai’s planned stopover in the United States, a Chinese foreign ministry spokesman was quoted as saying on Thursday.

“We have consistently and resolutely opposed the United States or other countries which have diplomatic relations with China arranging this kind of transit,” spokesman Geng Shuang said.

China urged the US not to send “Taiwan independence forces any wrong signal”, Geng added.

China views Taiwan as merely a wayward province, with no right to state-to-state relations. It always complains about transit stops by Taiwan leaders in the United States.

Tsai said she will transit via Hawaii on her way home from an eight-day visit to Palau, Nauru and the Marshall Islands, which began on Thursday.

A spokeswoman for the US State Department said Tsai’s transit was consistent with the unofficial nature of US relations with Taiwan and was based on long-standing US practice “out of consideration for the safety, comfort, convenience, and dignity of the traveler.”

Tsai’s transits would be “private and unofficial”, the spokeswoman said.

The Taiwan leader would be greeted in Hawaii by James Moriarty, chairman of the American Institute in Taiwan, America’s de facto embassy in Taiwan.

The United States, like most other countries, has no formal diplomatic relations with Taiwan but is the island’s largest weapons supplier and most powerful international backer.

Tsai’s tour comes amid heightened tension between Taipei and Beijing, which has stepped up diplomatic and military pressure to assert its sovereignty over self-governed Taiwan.

Taipei is battling to prevent its remaining 17 allies from switching allegiance to China.

Tsai said in a statement before setting off on the tour that it was her duty to promote Taiwan internationally.

“Letting the country advance down the right path, and letting Taiwan continue to shine on the world stage, are all things that must be done as president, and I will go all out,” she said.

Last year, China persuaded the Dominican Republic, Burkina Faso and El Salvador to forge relations with Beijing in what Tsai called “increasingly out of control” behavior.

Chinese President Xi Jinping said in January Beijing reserved the right to use force to bring Taiwan under its control but will strive to achieve peaceful “reunification”.

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