China protests Taiwan leader's U.S. transit

HAWAII VISIT. In this file photo, Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen arrives for a press conference at the Presidential Palace after the national flag raising ceremony in Taipei on January 1, 2019. File photo by Sam Yeh/AFP

HAWAII VISIT. In this file photo, Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen arrives for a press conference at the Presidential Palace after the national flag raising ceremony in Taipei on January 1, 2019.

File photo by Sam Yeh/AFP

BEIJING, China – China on Thursday, March 21, protested Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen's stopover in the United States after a visit to 3 Pacific nations, calling on Washington to block her transit.

Following a trip to Palau, Nauru and the Marshall Islands, Tsai is scheduled to transit through Hawaii on March 27.

Taiwan is typically low-key in announcing its leader's specific itineraries, fearing China will use its power to disrupt her visits.

"Any attempt to create... 'one China, one Taiwan' will be opposed by all Chinese people," Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said at a regular press briefing.

"China has already repeatedly stated its position and has also made solemn representations to the US," he added, calling on Washington to block Tsai's entry.

During the Taiwanese leader's last US visit, China lodged an official protest after she gave a speech in Los Angeles – the first time in 15 years that a Taiwanese leader spoke publicly on American soil.

Beijing also protested when Tsai transitted through Hawaii and the US territory of Guam during her first official visit to the Pacific in 2017.

Washington switched diplomatic recognition from Taipei to Beijing in 1979 but has remained Taiwan's most powerful unofficial ally and biggest arms supplier.

China sees the self-ruling island as part of its territory awaiting reunification and bristles at any moves by countries that might lend Taiwan diplomatic support or legitimacy.

It sees the territory as a renegade province that needs to be retaken by force if necessary.

Beijing has stepped up diplomatic pressure on Taiwan since Tsai took office in 2016, as she has refused to acknowledge its "one China" policy.

Five countries have switched official recognition to Beijing since Tsai became president, leaving Taipei with only 17 diplomatic allies, including 6 in the Pacific. – Rappler.com