Taiwan announces U.S. itinerary for president, upsetting China

01 January, 2017, 00:53 | Author: Essie Rivera

Further drama looms with Tsai's transit through the United States next month for a Latin America trip. Relations between China and Taiwan have worsened since Tsai, who heads the ruling pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party, was elected president in January, even as she has pledged to maintain peace with China.

On speculation that she could meet with members of Trump's team and US officials during her transit stops in the United States on her way to Central America next month, Tsai said despite "the imagination of many out there", the plan is merely to stop over in the U.S.

Beijing was infuriated by her phone conversation with Trump, the first known time a USA leader or president-elect spoke directly with the island's leader, deeming it a violation of Washington's commitment to the one-China policy. The United States, along with many other countries, does not recognize Taiwan as a sovereign nation and sticks officially to the "One China" position, but has kept informal relations with the island after severing diplomatic ties with it in 1979.

Asked about any possible aggressive moves from China, Taiwan defense ministry spokesman Chen Chung-shi said: "We are fully prepared, and plan for the worst while preparing for the best".

While it is not clear if the mainland has indeed taken any decisions yet, but the three sources said Taiwan has become a hot topic within the top leaders of China's People's Liberation Army (PLA) in the recent few weeks.

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Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen on Saturday said that China could hurt its ties with Taiwan over its growing economic and military saber-rattling.

Over the past month, the Chinese military has twice dispatched aircraft to fly around Taiwan.

The developments come as Trump has been pushing American companies to move manufacturing jobs from China to the US and threatening to impose a 45% tariff on Chinese imports. Defeated Nationalist forces fled to Taiwan in 1949 at the end of a Chinese civil war and Beijing has never renounced the use of force to bring Taiwan under its control.

Beijing has since cut the number of Chinese group tours traveling to Taiwan and has insisted that cross-strait relations can not move forward without the "1992 consensus" serving as the foundation of bilateral exchanges.

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