Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen hailed on Monday the island’s “close and staunch” partnership with the United States, as she welcomed a delegation from Washington making a post-election visit expected to anger Beijing.
The unofficial delegation was sent by US President Joe Biden’s administration to meet senior politicians including Tsai’s Vice President Lai Ching-te, who won Saturday’s poll.
Voters on the self-ruled island defied Beijing’s repeated calls not to elect Lai, whom it condemned as a dangerous separatist who would take Taiwan down the “evil path” of independence.
Beijing, which claims the self-ruled island as its territory and has never renounced force to bring it under its control, insisted that the vote did not change the fact the island was part of China.
“Your visit is highly meaningful. It fully demonstrates US support for Taiwan’s democracy and highlights the close and staunch partnership between Taiwan and the US,” Tsai told the US delegates.
Communist-ruled China vehemently objects to anything that even suggests official recognition of Taiwan, and the US visit is expected to cause annoyance, particularly as the delegates are due to meet Lai later in the day.
The Chinese foreign ministry on Sunday condemned US Secretary of State Antony Blinken for congratulating Lai on his victory.
The delegation consists of a former US national security adviser and a former deputy secretary of state, and was led by the chair of the American Institute of Taiwan — the de facto US embassy for the island.
Lai, of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), had vowed to defend the island from China’s “intimidation”, and Taipei’s foreign ministry told Beijing to accept the result.
Taiwan is not diplomatically recognised by most countries in the world, though the United States is a partner and its top weapons provider.
The last time a US delegation visited immediately after an election was in 2016, after Tsai’s win, to meet her incoming team and the losing candidates.
Since her election, China has cut off all high-level communications with Tsai, as she and her party have defended Taiwan’s sovereignty by saying the island is “already independent”.
Big legislature loss
Under Tsai’s two-term administration, Taiwan has greatly bolstered its defence resources — buying fighter jets and building its own submarine — as a form of deterrence against increasingly bellicose threats from China.
Her deputy Lai has vowed to follow the same policy path.
But he has been more outspoken in the past on the issue of independence, though he has moderated his comments to fit the party line in the lead-up to the election.
His win in Saturday’s vote delivered an unprecedented third term for the DPP, but they no longer have their majority in the legislature, losing 12 seats, while the main opposition Kuomintang party gained 14 seats.
China’s Taiwan Affairs Office said on the heels of the election results that “the Democratic Progressive Party cannot represent the mainstream public opinion on the island”, according to Xinhua.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)