China has vowed to take “firm and firm measures” on Taiwan’s Vice President William Lai Ching-te’s visit to the United States. Lai, the leading contender in Taiwan’s presidential elections next year, is only making a transit stop in the US on his way to Paraguay, where he will attend the inauguration of President-elect Santiago Peña.
Taiwan is claimed by China, which has vowed to one day annexe the democratic island by force if necessary and has ramped up political and military pressure against it. China is closely monitoring the situation and will take firm measures to safeguard national sovereignty and territorial integrity. Lai has been far more outspoken about independence than Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen, to whom Beijing is already hostile because it refuses to accept her idea of Taiwan as part of China.
Lai was greeted at his hotel by a crowd of supporters waving US and Taiwan flags, according to a video posted by Taiwan’s presidential office. There were also people waving the green and white flag usually used by supporters of the island’s independence. Lai is expected to continue to Paraguay, then stop in San Francisco on the way back. He indicated in a tweet that he would meet with AIT President Laura Rosenberger during his stay in San Francisco next week.
Airspace incursions by the Chinese military around Taiwan’s waters and airspace were larger than usual in the week preceding Lai’s departure. China firmly opposes any kind of official exchanges between the US and Taiwan, separatists seeking ‘Taiwan independence’ to enter the US under any name and for any reason, and any form of official contact between the US government and the Taiwanese side. China expresses its strong dissatisfaction with and strongly condemns the US insistence on arranging William Lai’s ‘transit’ to the US.