March 21 (Reuters) – Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen will make sensitive stopovers in the United States on her way to and from Central America that China’s foreign ministry condemned on Tuesday, but Taipei would not confirm a meeting with U.S. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy.
Taiwanese presidents routinely pass through the United States while visiting diplomatic allies in Latin America, the Caribbean and the Pacific, which, although not official visits, are often used by both sides for high-level meetings.
The United States, like most countries, has no formal diplomatic relations with Chinese-claimed Taiwan, but is its most important international backer and arms supplier.
Tsai will transit through New York and Los Angeles as part of a trip to Guatemala and Belize, leaving Taipei on March 29 and returning April 7, presidential office spokesperson Lin Yu-chan told reporters. Sources have told Reuters that McCarthy intends to meet her during the California leg of her visit.
Asked whether he could confirm the McCarthy meeting, Taiwan Vice Foreign Minister Alexander Yui said details of the U.S. transits would be given at a later date once arrangements had been finalised.
China staged war games near Taiwan in August after a Taipei visit by then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
China has said the United States is colluding with Taiwan to challenge Beijing, and is giving support to those who want the island to declare formal independence.
In Beijing, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said that it strongly opposed any contacts between the United States and Taiwan’s government and that it had already made “stern representations” to Washington about the stop-overs.
“We again warn the Taiwan authorities that there is no way out for Taiwan independence, and any illusions about attempts to collude with external forces to seek independence and provocation is doomed to fail,” Wang said.