China urges U.S. to block transit by Taiwan president

Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen speaks during an interview in Luque, Paraguay, June 28, 2016. REUTERS/Jorge Adorno

Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen speaks during an interview in Luque, Paraguay, June 28, 2016. REUTERS/Jorge Adorno

China called on U.S. officials on Tuesday not to let Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen pass through the United States en route to Guatemala next month, days after President-elect Donald Trump irked Beijing by speaking to Tsai in a break with decades of precedent.

The U.S. State Department appeared to reject the call, saying that such transits were based on “long-standing U.S. practice, consistent with the unofficial nature of (U.S.) relations with Taiwan.”

China is deeply suspicious of Tsai, whom it thinks wants to push for the formal independence of Taiwan, a self-governing island that Beijing regards as a renegade province.

Her call with Trump on Friday was the first between a U.S. president-elect or president and a Taiwanese leader since President Jimmy Carter switched diplomatic recognition to China from Taiwan in 1979.

Tsai is due to visit Guatemala, one of Taiwan’s small band of diplomatic allies, on Jan. 11-12, its foreign minister, Carlos Raul Morales, told Reuters.

Taiwan’s Liberty Times, considered close to Tsai’s ruling Democratic Progressive Party, reported on Monday that she was planning to go through New York early next month on her way to Nicaragua, Guatemala and El Salvador.

Taiwan has not formally confirmed Tsai’s trip but visits to its allies in the region are normally combined with transit stops in the United States and meetings with Taiwan-friendly officials.

The trip would take place before Trump is inaugurated on Jan. 20 to replace Democrat Barack Obama and Tsai’s delegation would seek to meet Trump’s team, including his White House chief of staff Reince Priebus, the Liberty Times said.

For the full story, read here.

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