China Bristles as Taiwan's Vice-President William Lai Arrives in US

China strongly condemned the visit of Taiwan's deputy leader to the United States on Sunday, saying the Taiwanese leader is a 'separatist' and 'troublemaker'.

Taiwan Vice-President William Lai arrived in New York on Sunday on a scheduled flight from Taipei, as part of his trip to Paraguay. Lai will spend only 24 hours in New York but he will transit through San Francisco later this week as he returns from the Latin American nation.

The Chinese foreign ministry issued a statement saying it opposes any form of visit to the US by what it calls 'Taiwan independence separatists'

William Lai, Taiwan vice president
Taiwan's Vice President William Lai Reuters

'Serious Violation'

The Chinese foreign ministry's spokesperson said the US and the Taiwan authorities planned the high-profile visit in the name of having a 'stopover' so that Lai can engage in political activities in the US.

China said this seriously violates the one-China principle and undermines China's sovereignty and territorial integrity. Under the One China principle, Beijing expects the world to endorse the Chinese position that Taiwan is a region of the mainland, not a sovereign territory.

"Lai stubbornly adheres to the separatist position of Taiwan independence and is a troublemaker through and through ...China is closely following developments and will take resolute and vigorous measures to defend national sovereignty and territorial integrity," the ministry said in a statement.

Cause of Tensions

The Chinese foreign ministry says that the visit of the Taiwanese VP to the US shows that the cause of the tensions in the Taiwan Straits is the creation of Taiwan authorities' attempt to solicit US support for "Taiwan independence". The development also shows that Washington continues to use the Taiwan issue to contain China, the spokesperson added, according to the Global Times.

: People’s Republic of China and Republic of China (Taiwan).
: People’s Republic of China and Republic of China (Taiwan). Wikimedia Commons

"We urge the US to abide by the one-China principle and the three China-US joint communiqués, deliver on its commitment of not supporting "Taiwan independence" or "two Chinas" or "one China, one Taiwan," stop all forms of official interaction with Taiwan, stop conniving at and supporting "Taiwan independence" separatist forces and their separatist activities and stop undermining and hollowing out the one-China principle," the ministry statement said, according to the GT.

Taiwanese Stand

Meanwhile, Taiwan rejected the Chinese accusations over what analysts say is a low-profile visit by the Taiwanese leader to the US. The country's China-policymaking panel said China was the real troublemaker. "Our government firmly defends national sovereignty and security, guards the lines of defence of democracy and freedom, and will never back down, let alone capitulate," the Mainland Affairs Council said, according to Reuters.

US China Taiwan Strait

Who is William Lai?

William Lai is the front-runner to be Taiwan's next president. The elections will take place in January next year. Lai is known to be a pro-independence leader, who once said he was a "practical worker" for Taiwan independence. Though Lai espouses the hawkish line in Taiwan's politics, he has vowed on campaign trails that he will not seek to change the status quo.