China’s Foreign Ministry has condemned a visit to the United States on Saturday by Taiwan’s Vice President William Lai, and vowed that it will retaliate.
In a statement on Sunday, Beijing reiterated its opposition to any form of diplomatic communication between Washington and Taipei.
Lai, who is considered a strong contender to win Taiwan’s presidential election in January, arrived in New York late on Saturday for what was officially designated a brief stopover before heading for Paraguay to attend the inauguration of the South American country’s new president.
In a release issued by an unnamed Foreign Ministry spokesperson on Sunday, Beijing said it “firmly opposes any visit by ‘Taiwan independence’ separatists to the US in any name or under whatever pretext.” It added that Lai is a “troublemaker through and through” and that his arrival in the United States “seriously violates the One China principle” and “gravely undermines China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.”
It added that “China is closely following the developments” and that “resolute and strong measures” will be taken to protect the national interest.
Upon arrival in New York, Lai wrote on X (formerly Twitter) that he was “looking forward to seeing friends and attending transit programs.” The diplomat is expected to meet with Taiwanese expatriates at a reception in New York, UK publication the Guardian reported on Sunday citing an anonymous figure with knowledge of the trip.
The source added that Lai intends to keep the visit “low key” and will not hold any formal talks with US lawmakers. Lai’s return trip also includes another stopover in San Francisco, where he is expected to meet with Laura Rosenberger, the chair of the American Institute in Taiwan – generally considered to be Washington’s de facto embassy in Taipei.
Lai’s brief visit to the US come as Beijing and Washington attempt to improve ties following long-running tensions between the world’s two biggest economies.
Earlier this month, Washington issued a formal invitation to China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi in a move thought to be precursor to a meeting between leaders Joe Biden and Xi Jinping later this year.
Washington formally recognizes the ‘One China’ principle, which states that Taiwan is part of China. However, Washington has maintained informal diplomatic ties with Taipei in addition to supplying it with weaponry.
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