Taiwan’s VP set to travel to Paraguay with US stopover amid Chinese criticism

Beijing, Aug 12 (EFE).- Taiwan’s Vice President William Lai will embark on a trip to Paraguay on Saturday to attend President-elect Santiago Peña’s inauguration ceremony with a stopover in the United States despite criticism from Beijing.

Lai will make a stopover in New York on his way to Paraguay, one of the 13 countries that maintain official ties with Taiwan, and will visit San Francisco on the way back.

“Departing soon for Asuncion to attend @SantiPenap’s inauguration & convey to him & the people of Paraguay the best wishes of @iingwen (Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen) & Taiwan,” Lai said on X, formerly Twitter.

“Looking forward to meeting with (current Paraguayan president Mario Abdo Benítez) @MaritoAbdo to express thanks for his staunch support & excited to meet with US friends in transit,” added Lai, who is Taiwan’s ruling party’s presidential candidate in the upcoming election.

In recent months, Beijing has urged Washington to abide by the “One China” principle and end official exchanges with Taipei.

In April, China staged three-day military drills after Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen met US House Speaker Kevin McCarthy in California while returning from a trip to Guatemala and Belize.

Taipei has tried to downplay Lai’s stopover and asked Beijing not to overreact.

According to the Taiwanese government, China may hold maneuvers near Taiwan next week, using the stopover as a pretext to “intimidate” voters ahead of next year’s elections.

Tensions between Taipei and Beijing escalated last summer on account of the visit of then US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

Chinese military planes have constantly crossed the median of the Taiwan Strait since that trip.

Since Tsai’s coming to power in 2016, as many as nine countries have severed relations with Taiwan to establish ties with China, taking the number of countries with which Taipei maintains official diplomatic ties to 13.

China claims sovereignty over Taiwan, a territory it considers a “rebel province” since Chinese Nationalist Party (Kuomintang) forces withdrew there in 1949 after losing the civil war with the Communists.

The self-ruled island is one of the key sources of tension between China and the US, mainly because Washington is Taipei’s key arms supplier and could be its greatest military ally in the event of a war with China. EFE


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