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US and Taiwan 'closer than ever,' says Tsai in New York

March 31, 2023

Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen touted US-Taiwan cooperation during her visit to New York. She is now heading to Central America.

Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen gestures while speaking during an event with members of the Taiwanese community, in New York
Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen is expected to meet with US House Speaker Kevin McCarthy during a short stopoverImage: Taiwan Presidential Office/REUTERS

The United States and Taiwan are closer than ever, Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen told supporters in New York on Thursday amid a highly sensitive visit to the United States.

Tsai arrived in New York on Wednesday, in what Taiwan and the US have billed as a "transit" on her way to Central America.

"In particular, the relationship between Taiwan and the United States is closer than ever," Tsai said, noting "significant progress" in economic and security cooperation.

She is expected to meet US House Speaker Kevin McCarthy during a stopover in Los Angeles on her way back to Taipei.

China has cautioned that the meeting with the Republican politician could lead to a "serious confrontation" in the ties between Beijing and Washington. The US had said earlier that there was no reason for China to "overreact" to the "normal, uneventful" trip.

What President Tsai said in New York

On Thursday evening, Tsai spoke on the role of Taiwan in the world's economy and security in a closed-door speech.

The event was hosted in New York by the Hudson Institute think tank, which gave her its leadership award.

According to reports, some pro-China protesters assembled at police barricades outside the hotel where Tsai delivered her address.

The demonstrators were seen holding signs that read "One China" and "Taiwan is an inalienable part of China," reports said.

Tsai's visit comes amid strenuous relations between the US and China.

While Washington's longstanding "One China" policy acknowledges that the Chinese claim Taiwan as their territory, the US does not endorse the claim and continues to be a key provider of military hardware and other defense assistance for the self-ruled democratic island.

During the closed-door event, the Taiwan leader also said China deliberately raises tensions but that Taipei always responds cautiously and calmly.

The world can see that Taiwan is the responsible party in Cross-Strait relations, according to the Taiwan presidential office, citing Tsai's remarks.

Ma's visit to China sends wrong signal: Chen Fang-Yu, Soochow University

Chinese planes crossed Taiwan Strait median line: Taiwan

On Friday, nine Chinese aircraft crossed the Taiwan Strait's median line carrying out combat readiness patrols, according to Taiwan's Defense Ministry.

Taiwan responded by using its own aircraft and ships to monitor the situation using the principle of "not escalating conflicts or causing disputes," the ministry said.

"The communist military's deployment of forces deliberately created tension in the Taiwan Strait, not only undermining peace and stability, but also has a negative impact on regional security and economic development," a statement from the ministry said.

There was no immediate statement from Beijing.

Meanwhile, Tsai was on her way to visit Guatemala and Belize on Friday in a bid to boost relations with shrinking allies.

Her Central America trip comes shortly after Honduras became the latest nation to sever diplomatic ties with Taipei in favor of Beijing.

dvv/sms (AFP, AP, Reuters)

Honduras plans to end diplomatic ties with Taiwan