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China slams US visit by Taipei's VP, vows ‘vigorous’ steps to protect sovereignty

Chinese Taipei Vice President William Lai waves upon arrival on Aug. 13, 2023 at a hotel in New York City, USA. (Photo via Focus Taiwan by CNA)

Beijing has condemned a visit to the US by Taiwan's “separatist” Vice President William Lai, vowing to take “resolute and vigorous” steps to defend the country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.

“Lai stubbornly adheres to the separatist position of Taiwan independence and is a troublemaker through and through,” China's foreign ministry declared in a Sunday statement shortly after Lai arrived in New York City on Saturday for a stopover en route to the US-backed Latin American country of Paraguay.

Insisting that it remains opposed to any form of a visit by “Taiwan independence separatists” to the United States, it reiterated that Taipei is the “core of China’s core interests” and facts have shown again and again that the reason for the rise in tensions in the Taiwan Strait is the self-ruled island’s separatists trying to “rely on the United States to seek independence.” 

“China is closely following developments and will take resolute and vigorous measures to defend national sovereignty and territorial integrity,” it added.

The autonomy-seeking Lai, who is a leading contender in Taiwan’s 2024 presidential election, has in the past, described himself as a “practical worker for Taiwan independence” and is especially disliked by Beijing.

China has repeatedly denounced Lai’s trip, which includes another stopover in San Francisco on Wednesday on his way back to Taipei.

It remains unclear whether Lai will meet any US officials during the stopovers in the US.

China’s sovereignty over Taiwan is recognized in the globally-accepted “one China” principle.

Even the US adheres to the “one China” principle and does not officially recognize Taiwan as a country.

However, Washington regularly oversteps its own principles for its national interest and political gain.

The issue of Chinese Taipei has turned into Beijing’s most sensitive territorial dispute and a major bone of contention with the United States.

US officials continue to antagonize Beijing by siding with Taipei’s pro-secession leaders, holding frequent military exercises around the island, and serving as Taipei’s biggest weapons supplier.

Beijing has repeatedly warned US officials against such position, demanding from Washington not to encourage Taipei’s secessionists.

In April, China staged a large-scale military exercise around Chinese Taipei in response to Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen's then-meeting with US House Speaker Kevin McCarthy in California during a stopover on her way back to Taipei following her trip to Latin America.

Tsai’s meeting with McCarthy, who is second in line to the US President, was the highest-ranking government official to receive a Taiwanese president on US soil.

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