Trump Snubs Taiwan Leader's US Stopover
US President-elect Donald Trump and members of his transition team have reassured Beijing that Washington will not meet with Taiwan leader Tsai Lng-wen during her stopover to the US enroute to Central America to visit her allies.
Tsai departed from Taipei on Saturday and will transit through Houston in her first official state visits to Honduras, Nicaragua, Guatemala, and El Salvador after assuming office last year.
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In an interview with reporters before her departure, Tsai said the trip was aimed at bolstering its diplomatic ties with Central American allies as well as making its presence felt at the international stage, at a time when Beijing has taken several measures to diplomatically isolate the island.
Jessica Ditto, the Trump transition team spokesperson, said on Saturday that the president-elect and members of the transition team would not in any way meet with Tsai during her US stopover.
Trump, who seemed to be unaware of Tsai's stopover, said nobody has mentioned the trip to him.
"Nobody's ever mentioned that to me," he told reporters. "I'm not meeting with anybody until after Jan. 20, because it's a little bit inappropriate from a protocol standpoint. But we'll see."
Despite the reassurance of the transition team that neither Trump nor transition officials would meet with Tsai, reports said Beijing would, nevertheless, be on the lookout for any signs that Trump and his team will risk infuriating China by further engaging with Taipei, which it considers as part of its territory.
Tsai told reporters that her visits to the Central Americas is significant and would "show the international society that Taiwan is a capable and responsible partner for cooperation."
China had earlier urged Washington to prevent Tsai's stop in the US as this may further encourage the Taiwanese independence forces to push their agenda and destabilize the status quo.
Beijing considers Taiwan as a breakaway province and Trump's phone call with Taiwan leader Tsai last year angered China, prompting it to file a diplomatic protest before the US Embassy for breaking decades-old US protocol of the 'One China' policy.
Under the 'One China' policy, the US recognizes only China's government and considers Taiwan as a province of Beijing.