President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) on Saturday arrived in Houston for a brief transit stop on her way to Central America, a routine stopover that has been closely watched by Beijing after US president-elect Donald Trump spoke with her by telephone early last month.
Tsai touched down in Houston after setting out from Taiwan earlier in the day on her way to Honduras, the first leg of a nine-day trip. She is also to visit to Nicaragua, Guatemala and El Salvador, in that order.
Tsai was met at the airport by US Representative for Texas Blake Farenthold, American Institute in Taiwan Chairman James Moriarty and Taiwan’s Representative to the US Stanley Kao (高碩泰).
The US Bureau of Diplomatic Security adopted high-level security measures for Tsai’s stopover.
When Tsai visited Houston’s Museum of Fine Arts, traffic controls were imposed, and police officers escorted her, while the museum was cleared for three hours.
Tsai also visited a Formosa Plastics Corp (台灣塑膠) facility in Point Comfort and a Nan Ya Plastics Corp (南亞塑膠) facility in Wharton. She was accompanied by Farenthold.
Tsai is scheduled to stay in Houston for one night after attending a dinner in her honor which is to be attended by several US officials, including Farenthold, US Representative for Texas Al Green, Moriarty and about 600 expat Taiwanese.
Moriarty was quoted by a Democratic Progressive Party legislator as saying that he would continue to promote good relations between Taiwan and the US, as the two nations share common values.
The Houston stop has taken on a new significance since Tsai’s telephone call with Trump last month. It was the first reported telephone call between a Taiwanese president and a US president or president-elect since 1979.
Tsai is scheduled to make a stopover in San Francisco on Jan. 13, after leaving El Salvador on her way back to Taiwan.
It is Tsai’s second overseas trip since taking office on May 20 last year. Tsai visited Panama in June last year.
WHEELING AND DEALING? Hou You-yi, Ko Wen-je, Eric Chu and Ma Ying-jeou are under investigation for allegedly offering bribes for the other side to drop out of the race Taipei prosecutors have started an investigation into allegations that four top politicians involved in attempts to form a “blue-white” presidential ticket have contravened election regulations. Listed as defendants are Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) presidential candidate and New Taipei City Mayor Hou You-yi (侯友宜), KMT Chairman Eric Chu (朱立倫), former president Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) of the KMT and Taiwan People’s Party (TPP) Chairman and presidential candidate Ko Wen-je (柯文哲). The case stemmed from judicial complaints filed last month with the Taipei District Prosecutors’ Office alleging that the KMT (blue) and the TPP (white) had engaged in bribery by offering money or other enticements
COUNTER DISINFORMATION: More engagement and media literacy are needed to push back against misinformation and claims that the US is an unreliable partner, the AIT director said The US is “confident” that Taiwan does not face an imminent threat of a Chinese invasion, American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) Director Sandra Oudkirk told a US public radio show, adding that Washington remains committed to defensively arming the nation. She made the comment during an interview on All Things Considered, broadcast on Friday on US-based National Public Radio. “There is an important distinction between making plans and training troops, and getting ready to do something,” Oudkirk said, on whether she thinks Beijing plans to attack Taiwan in the near future. Chinese officials have told Washington that “their preference is for peaceful reunification,
EXPOSED: Some Taipei wardens reported joining the trips out of peer pressure, while others said they were relieved it was made public so they could refuse, a city councilor said Nearly 30 percent of Taipei borough wardens have joined group tours to China that were partially funded by the Chinese government, leading prosecutors probing potential Chinese interference in January’s elections to question local officials, an investigation showed. Democratic Progressive Party Taipei City councilors Chien Shu-pei (簡舒培) and Chen E-jun (陳怡君) have reported cases of Taipei borough wardens inviting residents to join inexpensive privately organized group tours to China that were partially funded by the Chinese government. The six-day trips reportedly cost NT$10,000 to NT$15,000, the councilors said. An investigation by the Liberty Times (the Taipei Times’ sister newspaper) showed that nearly 30 percent
ELIGIBLE FOR JANUARY: All presidential candidates and their running mates meet the requirements to run for office, and none hold dual citizenship, the CEC said Taiwan People’s Party (TPP) Legislator and vice presidential candidate Cynthia Wu (吳欣盈) is working with the Central Election Commission (CEC) to resolve issues with her financial disclosure statement, a spokesman for the candidate said yesterday, after the commission published the statements of all three presidential candidates and their running mates, while confirming their eligibility to run in the Jan. 13 election. Wu’s office spokesman, Chen Yu-cheng (陳宥丞), said the candidate encountered unforeseen difficulties disclosing her husband’s finances due to being suddenly thrust into the campaign. She is also the first vice presidential nominee to have a foreign spouse, complicating the reporting of