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China Panics Over Taiwanese President’s Planned Transit Stop In US

REUTERS/Jorge Adorno

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Ryan Pickrell China/Asia Pacific Reporter
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With China-Taiwan tensions running high, China asked U.S. officials Tuesday to prevent the Taiwanese president from making a transit stop in New York.

The Department of State reportedly rejected the request, stating the transit stop is a “long-standing U.S. practice, consistent with the unofficial nature of U.S. relations with Taiwan.”

China hopes the U.S. “does not allow her transit, and does not send any wrong signals to ‘Taiwan independence’ forces,” China’s foreign ministry told Reuters.

Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen is reportedly planning a transit stop in New York in early January on her way to Nicaragua, Guatemala, and El Salvador.

The Chinese foreign ministry criticized the transit stop Wednesday.

“I believe China’s position is well known to all,” Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Lu Kang said, “The so-called transit diplomacy is only a petty trick played by the Taiwan leader, whose hidden political agenda should be clear to all.”

“There is only one China in the world, the government of the People’s Republic of China is the only legitimate government representing China and Taiwan is only part of China,” he reiterated.

Lu warned that adhering to the One China policy is “an important political pre-condition if other countries intend to grow ties and carry out mutually beneficial cooperation with China.”

The transit stop issue has surfaced days after President-elect Donald Trump infuriated China by accepting a call from the Taiwanese president and blasting China for manipulating its currency, engaging in unfair trade practices, and militarizing the South China Sea on Twitter.

China referred to the call as a “petty action” and a Taiwanese “trick.”

Tsai will visit the U.S. prior to Trump’s inauguration. A meeting between the two is “unlikely,” an adviser to Trump’s transition team revealed to Reuters.

Taiwanese leaders periodically stop in the U.S. on their way to visit partners in the U.S. The Department of State said that it does not know whether or not Tsai will meet with U.S. officials during her visit.

The visit has yet to be confirmed by Taiwan, and Taiwan’s Presidential Office referred to reports on the visit as “excessive speculation.”

Nonetheless, China is clearly panicked by the possibility of “transit diplomacy.”

China views Taiwan as a separatist province, a democratic threat undermining Beijing’s authoritarian leadership, and a roadblock on the path to unification. Beijing fears that the U.S. may break with diplomatic tradition and reject the One China policy.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest restated Monday “our country’s continued commitment to a one-China policy.”

“I do not foresee major policy shifts in the near future because we all see the value of stability in the region,” Tsai told reporters Tuesday.

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