On a highly sensitive stopover in the United States, the Taiwanese president declared that maintaining the island’s independence would improve global security tensions with China.
Pro-Chinese protesters carrying red and yellow Chinese flags took to the streets of New York on Wednesday to salute the president. One carried a sign reading “Tsai Ing-wen, China’s Great Traitor.”
In a speech Wednesday night to Taiwanese in New York, Tsai thanked the United States for its help and urged the unity of her compatriots. “The safer Taiwan is, the safer the world will be,” he said. He said Taiwan would work with its democratic partners to continue on the path to democracy.
Tsai was attending a closed-door event in the city on Thursday, in which she called a Taiwan stopover in Central America a “transit”. The cease-fires in the United States are carefully calibrated and official meetings are avoided with top officials in Washington to try to limit the size of any possible Chinese reaction.
The United States has a long-standing “one China” policy, with the Chinese claiming Taiwan as its territory. However, the United States does not support the claim and remains the largest supplier of military supplies and defense assistance to Taiwan.
China is the focus of a meeting next week between Tsai and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy. It would be one of the top matches for the Taiwanese driver on his current tour. Details of Tsai’s card in the United States have not been released due to the sensitivities raised by her trip.
On Thursday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Mao Ning emphasized Chinese objections to the exchange between Tsai and the US leaders.
“China is strongly opposed to any form of official trade between the United States and Taiwan,” Mao told reporters in Beijing. “China will closely monitor the situation and will constantly protect our sovereignty and territorial integrity.”
The charge d’affaires of the Chinese embassy in Washington, Xu Xueyuan, said the meeting between Tsai and McCarthy would have significant repercussions and a “serious, serious, serious” impact on US-China relations.