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Taiwan Steps Onto The ‘International Stage’ As Trump Riles China

REUTERS/Tyrone Siu

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Ryan Pickrell China/Asia Pacific Reporter
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Risking Beijing’s ire, the Taiwanese president claimed Sunday that the self-ruled island has raised its diplomatic profile.

Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen returned Sunday evening from a tour of several Latin American countries that included two stop-overs in Houston and San Francisco. Beijing criticized the trip repeatedly.

“Our first objective was to consolidate our state friendships and allow Taiwan to walk on the international stage,” Tsai said after her arrival at Taiwan’s international airport.

“We also grasped the opportunity during our short transit time in the United States to visit industries and talk with important people in America,” she added.

China considers Taiwan a breakaway province destined for eventual reunification — by any means necessary.

Tensions between Beijing and Taipei have been running high since Tsai became president last year. Beijing severed the communication lines shortly after her election.

The Chinese Communist Party under Chinese President Xi Jinping presents itself as the vanguard of national sovereignty, making Tsai’s opposition to the one-China principle and pro-independence leanings disconcerting.

Tsai objects to the 1992 Consensus, which states that while the People’s Republic of China and the Republic of China disagree on which government is the legitimate, both Taiwan and mainland China are part of the same country, one China.

Prior to Tsai’s departure for her recent trip, China sent multiple requests calling for the U.S. to stop her from making a transit stop. There were concerns that Tsai might use the stopover to meet with President-elect Donald Trump, who has exacerbated tensions in recent weeks. Beijing tries to isolate Taiwan preventing it from making diplomatic connections that may embolden pro-independence forces.

Trump has thrown the long-standing one-China policy into question on three separate occasions.

In early December, Trump broke with diplomatic protocol and accepted a call from Tsai.

One week later, he questioned the value of upholding the one-China policy without concessions in other areas from China.

And then Trump told The Wall Street Journal Friday that the one-China policy is “under negotiation.”

The U.S. upheld the “one-China” policy for almost four decades, since the U.S. officially severed diplomatic ties with Taiwan in 1979. Trump, however, has indicated that he may take a different approach.

The one-China policy is “non-negotiable,” China’s foreign ministry said Monday, and the Chinese media warned that Trump “is playing with fire” and may open a “Pandora’s box of lethal potential.”

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