Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen attends a ceremony to sign up for Democratic Progressive Party's 2020 presidential candidate nomination in Taipei, Taiwan. Tyrone Siu/ Reuters
Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen will spend four nights in the United States this month while visiting Caribbean diplomatic allies, her government said on Monday, in a move likely to anger China, which considers the island a renegade province.
China says self-ruled Taiwan has no right to state-to-state relations, calling it the most sensitive and important issue in ties with the United States, which has no formal ties with Taipei, but is its chief diplomatic backer and supplier of arms.
Deputy Taiwan Foreign Minister Miguel Tsao said Tsai will spend two nights in the United States each way during her trip to St Vincent and the Grenadines, St Lucia, St Kitts and Nevis, and Haiti from July 11 to 22.
Details of the US portion of the trip were still being worked out, he added.
Taiwan’s Central News Agency said Tsai was expected to transit in New York and Denver.
There was no immediate response from Beijing.
The four Caribbean allies share similar ideals with Taiwan, Tsao said, adding that the theme of the visit is “freedom, democracy and sustainable governance.”
However, he added that the visit to Haiti, the Western Hemisphere’s poorest nation, will be less than 24 hours due to unrest there.
Protesters have for months agitated to remove President Jovenel Moise, a former businessman who took office in February 2017.
Tsai’s time in the United States will be unusually long, as normally she spends just a night at a time on transit stops.
Tsai, who faces re-election in January, has repeatedly called for international support to defend Taiwan’s democracy in the face of Chinese threats. She last went to the United States in March, stopping over in Hawaii at the end of a Pacific tour.
Beijing has regularly sent military aircraft and ships to circle Taiwan on drills in the past few years, while heaping international pressure on Taiwan by whittling down its few remaining diplomatic allies.
Taiwan now has formal ties with only 17 countries, almost all small nations in Central America and the Pacific.
The Solomon Islands will send a delegation to study Chinese aid in neighbouring countries as it considers a diplomatic switch to Beijing, the delegation leader said last week.
In her meeting with Holcomb on Monday, President Tsai Ing-wen directly referenced Beijing's drills and called for like-minded countries to continue supporting Taiwan.
Police in New York had to break up fights between supporters and opponents of Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen on Thursday during a visit to the United States which will likely infuriate Beijing.
The US military said it sent two Navy warships through the Taiwan Strait on Sunday as the Pentagon increases the frequency of movement through the strategic waterway despite opposition from China.
Heartrending scenes of a newborn plucked alive from the rubble and a broken father clutching his dead daughter's hand have laid bare the human cost of violent earthquakes in Syria and Turkey that by Wednesday had claimed 11,000 lives.
The Fire broke out over an area of about 100 square metres and was extinguished around an hour later, Interfax news agency reported, adding that the small refinery belonged to a company called Resource LLC.
Pope Francis offered his prayers for the thousands of victims of the earthquake in Syria and Turkey on Wednesday and called on the international community to continue to support rescue and recovery efforts.