Taiwan vice chairman stops over in New York on option to Paraguay

Taiwan vice president stops over in New York

Taiwan’s Vice President William Lai speaks at Taoyuan Worldwide Airport earlier than his departure to the USA for a stopover in New York on his option to Paraguay, in Taoyuan, Taiwan August 12, 2023. REUTERS

NEW YORK — Taiwan Vice President William Lai arrived in New York on Saturday at first of a delicate U.S. stopover, which China has condemned and Taiwanese officers worry might immediate extra Chinese language army exercise across the democratically ruled island.

Lai, the front-runner to grow to be Taiwan’s president in elections in January, is formally making solely transit stops in the USA on his option to and from Paraguay for the swearing in of its president subsequent week.

Lai mentioned that he had arrived in New York, on the social media platform X, previously generally known as Twitter.

“Joyful to reach on the #BigApple, icon of liberty, democracy & alternatives,” Lai posted.

“Wanting ahead to seeing pals & attending transit packages in #NewYork.”

The China Airways flight Lai took from Taipei landed at New York’s John F. Kennedy Airport shortly after 8:15 p.m. native time (0015 GMT), in keeping with flight monitoring app Flightradar24.

Neither Taiwan nor the U.S. have given actual particulars about his U.S. schedule, which each are aiming to maintain low key, in keeping with officers briefed on the journey.

Laura Rosenberger, chair of the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT), a U.S. government-run non-profit that carries out unofficial relations with Taiwan, mentioned on X that she would meet Lai in San Francisco.

Taipei and Washington name U.S. stopovers by Taiwanese officers routine and no trigger for China to take “provocative” actions, however Beijing has reacted with anger at what it sees as an additional signal of U.S. help for Taiwan, which it claims as its personal.

China is more likely to launch army drills subsequent week close to Taiwan, utilizing Lai’s U.S. stopovers as a pretext to intimidate voters forward of a subsequent 12 months’s election and make them “worry battle,” Taiwanese officers say.

Lai, talking to reporters earlier than leaving Taiwan, made solely fleeting point out of the U.S. a part of his journey, merely noting he was going to New York first.

Lai’s U.S. stopover would be the eleventh by a Taiwanese vice chairman, in keeping with the State Division, which calls them routine however “personal and unofficial.”

Washington doesn’t have formal diplomatic ties with Taiwan, however is its most vital worldwide supply of weapons, and the island’s contested standing is a continuing supply of friction with Beijing.

Paraguay is among the few remaining international locations on this planet that retains formal ties with Taiwan.

Lai has made one prior U.S. transit as Taiwan’s vice chairman, in January 2022 on a visit to Honduras, a then-ally of the island that switched its diplomatic recognition to Beijing in early 2023.

Lai mentioned he would use the Paraguay go to not solely to deepen ties with that nation but additionally to have “self-confident” exchanges with different international locations and meet with delegations from like-minded companions. He didn’t say who.

This is able to “let the worldwide group perceive that Taiwan is a rustic that adheres to democracy, freedom and human rights, and actively participates in worldwide affairs,” Lai added.

Lai went to Honduras final 12 months for the inauguration of its president and had a quick although symbolic chat there with U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris. The USA has not introduced who could also be going to Paraguay subsequent week.

Three sources advised Reuters the Biden administration was keen to maintain Lai’s go to low-profile in order to not stoke tensions earlier than Taiwan’s election and to protect the current momentum in U.S. engagements with senior Chinese language officers.

That features the prospect of a go to to the U.S. by Chinese language International Minister Wang Yi, which might pave the way in which for a gathering between U.S. President Joe Biden and China’s chief Xi Jinping this 12 months.

Beijing significantly dislikes Lai, who has up to now described himself as a “sensible employee for Taiwan independence”. Lai has repeatedly mentioned throughout the election marketing campaign he doesn’t search to vary the established order.

Earlier than leaving, Lai wrote in English on X that he was “excited to fulfill with US pals in transit” and to be going to Paraguay, certainly one of simply 13 international locations to keep up formal ties with Taipei.

Lai is to return from Paraguay through San Francisco and is due again in Taiwan on Friday, in keeping with the official schedule for the journey revealed on Saturday, which didn’t point out the U.S. legs.


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