Taiwan President Returns to Taipei Amid Improving Relationship With US

By Frank Fang, Epoch Times
July 22, 2019 Updated: July 23, 2019

TAIPEI, Taiwan—President Tsai Ing-wen returned to Taiwan on July 22, after a 12-day trip to Taiwan’s four diplomatic allies in the Caribbean, with stopovers in New York City and Denver.

Local experts applauded Tsai’s overseas trip as a huge diplomatic success, which included solidifying the self-ruled island’s relationship with the United States.

Tsai left Taiwan on July 11 to visit Haiti, St. Christopher and Nevis, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and St. Lucia. Before arriving in Haiti, Tsai spent two days in New York City as a stopover. On her return journey, after visiting St. Lucia, she stopped over in Denver on July 20 and 21.

While there, Tsai met with Colorado officials U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), Democratic Gov. Jared Polis, and U.S. Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-Colo.), according to Taiwanese media.

At a press conference in Denver just before her departure, Tsai said that “Taiwan enjoys bipartisan support in the United States, in both the executive and legislative branches, and among the general public, as well.”

She also touched upon the issue of bilateral relations with the United States in her press conference at the Taoyuan airport in Taiwan upon her arrival. She said her extensive stay in the United States allowed her to exchange ideas with Taiwan supporters in U.S. political and academic circles, as well as those from think tanks, research institutions, and corporations.

“Some people say this is a sign of an improved relationship [with the United States]. But I must say it is more appropriate to say [the ties] have ‘deepened,’” Tsai said.

That relationship is critical to Taiwan’s national security, as the United States is the island’s main arms supplier.

Its cross-strait neighbor, China, views Taiwan as a renegade province that must be united with the mainland, with military force if necessary—despite the fact that the island is a de-facto country with its own constitution, military, elected officials, and currency. Hence, the United States has consistently provided arms for Taiwan’s self-defense.

Taiwan’s Central News Agency (CNA), in a commentary published on July 21, said that Tsai’s latest trip achieved several precedents. The four-day U.S. stopover was the longest ever by a visiting Taiwan president, and it was the first time that a Taiwan president visited Denver. Tsai also, for the first time, held a public event at Taiwan’s de-facto embassy in New York City.

Dong Li-wen, a researcher with Taiwan Think Tank, said the events show that the Taiwan-U.S. relationship has greatly improved, according to CNA.

Ding Shuh-fan, an emeritus professor at the National Chengchi University, said that it was unfortunate that Tsai didn’t meet with any high-ranking U.S. administration officials, according to CNA.

Ding also explained that the two U.S. agencies Tsai visited while in Colorado—the National Center for Atmospheric Research and Earth Observing Laboratory—were functional institutes that are less politically sensitive, allowing the U.S. government to avoid any potential friction with Beijing.

Correction: A previous version of this article misstated the number of days President Tsai Ing-wen traveled to the Caribbean, with stopovers in New York City and Denver. Tsai traveled for 12 days. The Epoch Times regrets the error.

Follow Frank on Twitter: @HwaiDer
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