TAIPEI, Taiwan (AP) — Taiwan's president will transit through Houston and San Francisco next month while traveling to Central America, stops that will likely irritate Beijing, which has urged Washington to prevent the self-ruled island's leader from landing in the United States.
President Tsai Ing-wen and her delegation will stop in Houston on Jan. 7 on their way to visit diplomatic allies Honduras, Nicaragua, Guatemala and El Salvador, Taiwan's official Central News Agency said. The delegation will transit through San Francisco on Jan. 13 on their return trip, the agency said Friday, citing the presidential office.
China has repeatedly urged the U.S. not to allow Tsai to transit through the U.S. to avoid "sending the wrong signal to Taiwanese independence forces." Beijing regards the self-governing island as part of China and officials have raised concerns after Trump this month questioned a U.S. policy that since 1979 has recognized Beijing as China's government and maintains only unofficial relations with Taiwan.
Trump also accepted a Dec. 2 phone call from Tsai, the first time an American president or president-elect has publicly spoken to Taiwan's leader since 1979.
The Taiwanese news agency's report said Tsai's delegation would arrange banquets with U.S.-based Taiwanese people and visit companies. It did not say whether Tsai would meet Trump or anyone from his transition team.
U.S. lawmakers often meet with Taiwanese presidents when they transit through the U.S. — most recently in June, when Tsai met in Miami with Republican Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida.
Earlier this week, the spokesman for the Chinese Cabinet's Taiwan Affairs Office called Taiwan the "most sensitive and complicated issue in China-U.S. relations."