Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen to visit allies Paraguay, Belize with US transits

Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen will transit in Los Angeles and Houston during the trip set for Aug 12-20, 2018.
Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen will transit in Los Angeles and Houston during the trip set for Aug 12-20, 2018.PHOTO: AFP

TAIPEI (AFP) - Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen will transit in the US on a visit to Paraguay and Belize next month officials said Monday (July 30), a move likely to anger China, which is deeply suspicious of ties between Washington and the self-ruled island.

Beijing views Taiwan as part of its own territory - to be reunified by force if necessary - and has stepped up military and diplomatic pressure since independence-leaning Tsai came to power in 2016.

Tsai will transit in Los Angeles and Houston during the trip set for August 12-20, officials said, although when asked if Tsai would meet US officials, vice foreign minister Jose Liu said details were "still pending confirmation."

Typically, Taiwan does not provide detailed itineraries when officials travel abroad, fearing China's ability to disrupt their visits.

During a visit to three Pacific allies last year, Tsai transitted through Hawaii and the US territory of Guam, prompting angry protests from Beijing.

Tsai's trip comes as Taiwan seeks to firm up ties with its dwindling number of foreign allies, many of whom have been lured away by what Tsai has decried as Beijing's "dollar diplomacy".

Burkina Faso and the Dominican Republic switched recognition to Beijing in May, leaving Taipei with only 18 diplomatic allies around the world.

Under pressure from Beijing, a growing number of international airlines and companies have also recently changed their website classifications of Taiwan to "Taiwan, China" or "Chinese Taipei".