Democratic Progressive Party Chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) arrived in Washington yesterday to a cheering crowd.
More than 100 supporters braved stormy weather and a delay of more than two hours to her arrival at Ronald Reagan National Airport to welcome her to the US capital.
The supporters unfurled large banners, sang songs and shouted dong suan — Hoklo, also known as Taiwanese, for “get elected.”
Tsai briefly addressed the supporters in Hoklo, saying that she was greatly touched by their passion.
On Tsai’s flight from Chicago, American Airlines announced that presidential candidate Tsai and a media delegation were onboard, only to identify her as a presidential candidate from Thailand rather than Taiwan.
Accompanying Tsai were DPP representative to the US Joseph Wu (吳釗燮) and former minister of foreign affairs James Huang (黃志芳).
Deputy Representative to the US Ann Hung (洪慧珠) was also on hand to welcome Tsai.
Tsai is expected to meet with officials from the US government, Congress and think tanks during her stay in the capital, which is to last until Friday.
Former National Security Council official Antonio Chiang (江春男) is to accompany Tsai on her visits during the stay. Tsai was not scheduled to make any public appearances yesterday, but is to give a speech at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a US think tank, and attend a welcome party at the US Congress today.
The most-senior US officials DPP presidential candidates have met in Washington have been a US deputy secretary of state and a White House National Security Council deputy national security adviser. A possible meeting between Tsai and US Deputy Secretary of State Antony Blinken is being closely watched.
Asked about the possibility of meeting Blinken, Tsai would only say that she appreciates the arrangements the US has made for her.
“It is not convenient for us to divulge with whom and when we will meet,” she said.
US Department of State spokeswoman Marie Harf welcomed Tsai’s visit and said the US looks forward to exchanges with her.
During Tsai’s stay in Chicago, she called on several political academics at the University of Chicago, as well as Nobel Laureate James Heckman, to discuss economic and education issues.
She also met with University of Chicago professor John Mearsheimer, author of the article Say Goodbye to Taiwan published last year that predicts China’s continued rise would make it increasingly difficult for the US to defend Taiwan.
Mearsheimer spoke with Tsai about what he meant by the article, clarifying that he by no means was urging the US to abandon Taiwan — a strategic vantage point for the US — and it would cause a crisis of confidence among US allies should Washington do so.