Taiwan’s president has visited New York amid crowds of supporters and protesters on a stopover visit that China has labelled a “provocation”.
Tsai Ing-wen arrived in New York on Wednesday on her way to Central America, and will stop off in Los Angeles next week on her way back to Taipei.
While in California she is expected to meet US House speaker Kevin McCarthy. China has threatened unspecified retaliation if she meets him.
Ms Tsai said that the security of the world hinges on the self-ruled island’s fate in her first remarks on the US trip that may further escalate tensions between Washington and Beijing.
“Taiwan is at the front lines of democracy,” Ms Tsai said at an event Wednesday after landing in New York. “The more united Taiwanese are, the safer Taiwan will be, and the safer the world will be.”
Speaking at a dinner banquet, Ms Tsai said countries such as Japan and many European nations want to work with Taiwan as uncertainties over the US-China trade war and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine accelerate the restructuring of global supply chains.
The president reiterated that Taiwan has shown, when faced with difficulties, it neither provokes nor gives in to pressure, the official Central News Agency reported.
“Taiwan has the ability to maintain regional peace and stability, and moreover is determined to protect the values we adhere to and the way we live,” she said.
The White House urged China on Wednesday not to use Ms Tsai’s “normal” stopover in the United States as a pretext to increase aggressive activity against Taiwan.
A senior Taiwan security official said on Thursday that Taiwan expects a less severe reaction from China to the expected meeting with Mr McCarthy, however, and has not seen any unusual Chinese military movements.
Taiwan’s defence ministry said that from Wednesday to Thursday morning it had not spotted any Chinese aircraft entering Taiwan’s air defence zone or crossing the median line of the Taiwan Strait, which serves as an unofficial barrier.
China’s air force flies almost daily into the air defence zone, or across the median line, in what Taiwan calls “grey zone” warfare designed to test and wear out its forces. – Agencies