Taiwan won’t be obliterated: president


Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen departs for a trip to Latin America, including stops in the US.Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen has arrived in the United States en route to Latin America and has vowed, amid Chinese pressure for references to the island to be stamped out internationally, that “no one can obliterate Taiwan’s existence”.

China, which claims self-ruled and democratic Taiwan as its own, has stepped up a campaign against the island as it tries to assert Chinese sovereignty. Beijing has ordered foreign companies to label Taiwan as part of China on their websites and is excluding Taiwan from as many international forums as it can.

Also, China has also been whittling down the number of countries that recognise Taiwan – now just 18 – with Burkina Faso and the Dominican Republic switching relations to Beijing this year.

Speaking before her flight to Los Angeles, where she was stopping en route to Belize and Paraguay, Tsai struck a defiant tone.

“In going abroad, the whole world can see Taiwan; they can see our country as well as our support for democracy and freedom,” Tsai said.

“We only need to be firm so that no one can obliterate Taiwan’s existence.”

Tsai arrived in Los Angeles on Sunday and is scheduled to address a banquet for Taiwanese-Americans on Sunday evening before visiting the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library outside of Los Angeles on Monday, according to Phi Lin Chuang, a Taiwanese government spokeswoman.

China, which believes Tsai wants to push for Taiwan’s formal independence, has already complained to Washington about her US stopovers, which include Houston on her way back.

The trip starts one day after Taiwan’s state-run refiner CPC Corp announced a deal valued at $US25 billion to purchase liquefied natural gas from the United States over the next 25 years.

The deal was aimed at boosting trade relations with the United States by reducing its trade surplus and was also a sign of goodwill ahead of Tsai’s visit, a person familiar with the government’s thinking told Reuters.

Tsai, who says she wants to maintain the status quo with China, will also be looking to reaffirm Washington-Taipei ties and to shore up support ahead of local elections in Taiwan in November amid the escalating pressure from China.

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