TAIPEI – Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen embarked on Saturday on a trip to Central America, with controversial stopovers in the United States, in a bid to strengthen the island nation’s ties with Latin America after the re-emergence of its diplomatic war with China.
Tsai, accompanied by businessmen and officials, will travel to Honduras, Nicaragua, Guatemala and El Salvador – four of Taiwan’s 21 diplomatic allies of which 12 are in Latin America and the Caribbean – and make stopovers in Houston and San Francisco.
Among its goals, the tour seeks to consolidate diplomatic ties and strengthen bilateral cooperation with allies, Tsai said at Taoyuan International Airport before her departure.
Members of the Taiwanese delegation explained to EFE that during the tour, Tsai will meet with the presidents of the four Central American countries to consolidate diplomatic ties amid the growing Chinese pressure, inspect the projects of bilateral cooperation, and promote economic and trade projects.
Tsai will also attend inauguration of Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega.
The tour comes at a time of increased tensions with China after Tsai’s phone call in December to U.S. President-elect Donald Trump.
A possible meeting is expected between Tsai or her team and Trump advisors, or even Trump himself.
A Trump-Tsai meeting may spark strong tensions and other retaliations by China, who urged Washington to not allow Tsai to make stopovers in its territory, said the director of Tamkang University’s Institute of Strategic Studies, Li Da-jong.