China condemns ‘transit’ of Taiwan’s Vice President Lai Ching-te through the US

China has expressed strong dissatisfaction over the transit of Taiwan’s vice president and presidential candidate Lai Ching-te through the United States and has strongly condemned Lai’s visit to the US, the Chinese Foreign Ministry said on Sunday.

Taiwan’s vice president and presidential candidate Lai Ching-te transited through the United States. Photo courtesy: Wikimedia Commons

Lai Ching-te, in a tweet Saturday night, said he had arrived in New York, making a transit stop there on his way to Paraguay, where Lai plans to attend the inauguration of Paraguayan president-elect Santiago Pena.

"China is strongly against any form of official interaction between the US and Taiwan, and also against Taiwanese separatists visiting the US under any pretext or justification, and opposes any form of official contact between the US government and Taiwan. China has expressed strong dissatisfaction with the United States over the organization of the ‘transit’ of Lai Ching-te and has strongly condemned it," the Chinese Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

The ministry said that, under the guise of ‘transit,’ the United States and Taiwan have organized an opportunity for Lai to carry out political activities in the US, which violates the one-China principle and also seriously damages China's sovereignty and territorial integrity.

Taiwanese deputy foreign minister Yui Tah-ray said at the start of August that Lai Ching-te was going to make transit stops in New York and San Francisco on his way to and back from Paraguay.

On July 20, Taiwan's CNA news agency reported that China considered preventing Lai's transit stopovers in the US a "top priority," as "this is a very dangerous path they [Taiwan] are taking."

In April, Taiwan's ruling Democratic Progressive Party officially nominated Lai, who also serves as its chairman, as its candidate for the 2024 presidential election. Current Taiwanese president Tsai Ing-wen cannot run for office again as she has already served two consecutive presidential terms.

Taiwan has been governed independently from mainland China since 1949. Beijing views the island as its province, while Taiwan – a territory with its own elected government – maintains that it is an autonomous country, but stops short of declaring independence. 

Beijing opposes any official contact of foreign states with Taipei and considers Chinese sovereignty over the island indisputable. Taiwan currently has only a few official diplomatic allies, including Paraguay.