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While on his way to Honduras, Taiwan VP to make U.S. stopovers

FILE PHOTO: Taiwanese new premier William Lai speaks during a cabinet transition ceremony in Taipei, Taiwan September 8, 2017. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu

When Taiwan Vice President William Lai visits Honduras next week, he will pass through the United States, according to Taiwan’s presidential office, despite tensions with China, which always complains to Washington about such stopovers.

The news: Despite strong concerns from Taipei, which has been protesting about escalating Chinese pressure to force the island to embrace Chinese sovereignty, Beijing considers democratic Taiwan to be its own territory, making it ineligible for state-to-state ties.

  • Taiwan is frequently referred to as China’s most sensitive and crucial problem with the United States, which, although not having formal diplomatic connections with Taiwan, is the island’s strongest ally and primary weapons supplier.
  • Lai will travel to and from Honduras, Taiwan’s diplomatic ally, via the US cities of Los Angeles and San Francisco, as is customary for top Taiwanese leaders visiting Latin America.
  • According to the presidential office, the US government will provide “courteous greeting of a high calibre” to the Taiwan group, and Lai will hold virtual talks with unnamed US politicians during his travels.
  • Lai will attend the inauguration of Honduran President Xiomara Castro, in an effort to strengthen ties with the island as China intensifies diplomatic pressure.
  • Taiwan’s administration has stated that it will work with Castro to improve relations with Cuba, which is one of only 14 countries with formal diplomatic links with Taiwan, despite Castro’s suggestion that Taipei be replaced by Beijing.
  • The US has pushed Honduras to maintain ties with Taiwan, since it is concerned about expanding Chinese influence in the region.

China has been increasing pressure on Taiwan’s last diplomatic allies, re-establishing ties with Nicaragua last month, and has stated openly that it wants to reduce the number to zero.

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