The US is about to host Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen this month, in a move that will most likely infuriate China which has warned both Taipei and Washington against establishing official contacts.
Deputy Taiwan Foreign Minister Miguel Tsao said Monday Tsai will be spending two nights in the United States during her trip to visit Taiwan’s few remaining diplomatic allies in the Caribbean from July 11 to 22.
Details of the US portion of the trip were still being worked out with US authorities, he said, adding the cities will be named later.
According to Taiwan’s Central News Agency, the president was expected to transit in New York and Denver.
Tsai last went to the United States in March, when she spent just a night on transit stop.This time her time in the US will unusually be longer.
Beijing, which is yet to react to the news of Tsai US trip, sees the self-ruled island as a wayward province under the globally-recognized “One China” policy.
The policy refers to the diplomatic acknowledgement that there is only one state called China, despite the existence of two governments — one in China and another on the island of Taiwan.
In 1979, the US adopted the “One China” policy of recognizing Chinese sovereignty over the self-ruled island.
China has pursued Taiwan’s reunification ever since the island broke away from the mainland during a civil war in 1949. It claims full sovereignty over the island and almost all world countries, including the US, recognize that sovereignty.
Under President Donald Trump, Washington has, however, increasingly embraced Taiwan. Since he took office in January 2017, Washington has opened a new de facto embassy in Taipei and passed a law to encourage senior US officials to travel to Taiwan to meet their Taiwanese counterparts.
The four Caribbean allies — St. Vincent and the Grenadines; St. Lucia; St. Kitts and Nevis and Haiti – which will host Tsai this month, are among the few diplomatic allies which recognize Taiwan.
The government of Tsai now has formal ties with only 17 countries, almost all small nations in Central America and the Pacific. Many governments, including El Salvador, Burkina Faso, the Dominican Republic, and Panama have severed ties with her government in favor of Beijing.
Among the allies, the Solomon Islands is also considering a diplomatic switch to Beijing.
Last month, China warned Washington against meddling in Taiwan, saying it will “resolutely take action” and "fight at all costs" to defend its sovereignty over the self-ruled island as well as South China Sea waters.
Trump’s administration stepped-up support for secessionist forces in Taiwan and US Navy sailings through the Taiwan Strait that separates the island from mainland China have recently incensed China.
In the meantime, scores of Asia specialists, including former US diplomats and military officers, called on Trump to reconsider policies that “treat China as an enemy.”
In a draft open letter, cited by Reuters news agency, they warned that the belligerent approach could hurt US interests as well as the global economy.
The US is also accused of meddling in Hong Kong, which has recently been the scene of violent protests over an amendment to the city’s law, which would have allowed extradition to mainland China.
The US and Britain were among the Western nations who opposed the change in law.
Hong Kong, a former British colony, was returned to China in 1997, under a "one country, two systems" deal that guarantees it a level of autonomy, including a separate and independent legal system.
Riot police clash with protesters in Hong Kong
On Monday, protesters in Hong Kong took to the streets once again on the anniversary of the city’s 1997 handover to China.
They used a metal trolley to try to break into the city’s Legislative Council building as they smashed windows, prompting riot police to use pepper spray and batons to contain the demonstrators.
A large demonstration is yet expected to be held later in the day.
Protesters are demanding the resignation of Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam and a complete withdrawal of an extradition bill that triggered the protests.