Taiwan Vice President to stop in US during his trip to Paraguay

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Taiwan said Monday its vice president will attend the inauguration of Paraguay’s new president next month with US stopovers, a move likely to spark a rebuke from Beijing.

Paraguay is the last remaining country in South America that diplomatically recognizes Taiwan over China, which views the self-ruled island as part of its territory to be seized one day, by force if necessary.

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Recent US transits by Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen and her deputy William Lai had angered Beijing, which opposes any move that might lend Taipei a sense of international legitimacy.

China’s military staged three days of drills in April simulating a blockade of the island, after Tsai met US House Speaker Kevin McCarthy in California on her way home from a visit to two Central American allies.

Next month, Lai will lead a delegation to Asuncion for the inauguration of Santiago Pena on August 15 “to show the importance Taiwan attaches to its diplomatic ties with Paraguay,” said deputy foreign minister Alexander Yui.

The announcement came after Pena wrapped up a visit to the island over the weekend and vowed to be “on the side of” Taiwan during his five-year term at a meeting with Tsai.

“We had arranged transits in the United States during previous visits to Central and South America and it’s also being arranged this time according to precedents,” Yui said.

When asked if Taiwan was concerned that China might conduct military drills in response, he stressed that such US stopovers were nothing new.

“Taiwanese vice presidents have transited in the United States 10 times before... there is no reason for any unnecessary harassment.”

Yui did not disclose the transit locations, only saying that the vice president’s itinerary was still being finalized.

Lai last stopped in the United States in January 2022 on his way to the inauguration of Xiomara Castro, the first woman president of Taiwan’s then-ally Honduras, which ditched Taipei in March to recognize Beijing.

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