Posted: Tuesday, March 21, 2023. 10:25 am CST.
By Aaron Humes: Agence France-Presse reports, citing the Republic of China (Taiwan)’s presidential office, that President Tsai Ing-wen will be traveling to Belize and Guatemala starting next week to help shore up relations after Honduras announced it would ditch Taipei for Beijing and the People’s Republic of China (PRC).
The President’s trip, which would be her second to Belize, is intended to “demonstrate the importance we attach to our allies and further deepen cooperation and development among democratic allies…,” her office said, of which there remain just 14, including two in Central America, following Honduras’ planned defection. Deputy Minister Alexander Yui added that Tsai plans “to highlight the friendship with Guatemala and Belize, to demonstrate the achievements of bilateral cooperation and the prospects for mutual benefit and common prosperity that we create with our allies.”
The trip begins on March 29 with stopovers in New York and Los Angeles, although there was no indication of a reported meeting with U.S. Speaker of the House of Representatives Kevin McCarthy in the latter city. Tsai will meet with Prime Minister John Briceño and his Guatemalan counterpart President Alejandro Giammattei.
The PRC has objected to any meetings between Tsai and authorities in the U.S. which maintains limited relations with Taiwan, including providing weapons, after former Speaker Nancy Pelosi angered Beijing last year by visiting the island, leading to much criticism and organization of military exercises around the territory the PRC has insisted belongs to it and has threatened it will take back by force if necessary.
The PRC has successfully picked off several Taiwanese allies since 2016 in Latin America including Honduras, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Panama, the Dominican Republic, and Costa Rica.
According to CTV News, President Joe Biden’s administration has told their PRC counterparts that Tsai’s stopovers are in line with recent precedent and should not give Beijing an excuse to ramp up activity in the Taiwan Strait. Tsai’s six previous “unofficial” visits dating back to 2019 have included meetings with members of Congress and the Taiwanese diaspora and has been welcomed by the chairperson of the American Institute in Taiwan, the U.S. government-run nonprofit that carries out unofficial relations with Taiwan.
Under the “one China” policy, the U.S. recognizes Beijing as the government of China and doesn’t have diplomatic relations with Taiwan but has maintained that Taipei is an important partner in the Indo-Pacific. The U.S. is also trying to mend strained relations with Beijing following the infamous “spy balloon affair” last month.
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