Sun, Oct 22, 2017 - Page 3 News List

US gives Tsai permission to transit through territory

GLOBAL VISIBILITY:China’s poaching of the nation’s allies is problematic because it could take away the president’s pretext of visiting the US on transit

By William Hetherington  /  Staff writer, with CNA

The US has agreed to let President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) transit through Guam and Hawaii when she visits the nation’s diplomatic allies in the Pacific later this month, the Presidential Office said on Friday.

Tsai is scheduled to visit the Marshall Islands, Tuvalu and the Solomon Islands from Saturday to Nov. 4.

Given the circumstances surrounding the nation’s international status, the best way for Tsai to set foot on US soil is for her to make transit stops en route to visiting allies, a high-level government official said on condition of anonymity.

That is why the locations of the president’s transit stops are just as important as the nations she is to visit, the official added.

For this reason, the poaching of diplomatic allies by China — which has been occurring with increasing frequency since Tsai took office last year — is particularly problematic, because without allies, the president would no longer be able to visit the US under the pretense, the official said.

Transiting is not merely an excuse, but a necessity for visits to Oceanic nations, but the options are limited, the official said.

Since traveling through Australia is unlikely, transiting through US territory is the best option, because it could also increase the nation’s international visibility, he said.

Different locations are typically chosen for the departure and return legs to avoid putting too much pressure on representatives in any given place, the official said.

Putting the president in touch with more officials “greatly helps make the president internationally visible,” he said.

The US has agreed to allow next week’s itinerary on the principles of facilitating a comfortable, safe and convenient journey, the official said.

“The move isn’t just an act of kindness toward Taiwan, but is also demonstrative of the high degree of mutual trust between the two nations,” he said.

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