Taiwan media caught off guard by Tsai-Ortega meeting

Meeting broadcast live by Nicaraguan TV

(By Central News Agency)

        TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – Taiwanese reporters traveling with President Tsai Ing-wen to Nicaragua found out about her meeting with President Daniel Ortega by switching on the television set in their hotel, reports said Tuesday.

        On a tour of four Central-American allies, Tsai arrived in Nicaragua Monday to attend Ortega’s January 10 inauguration. There have been questions hanging over the diplomatic relationship, with some wondering whether Nicaragua would be the next country dropping Taiwan in favor of ties to China.

        Before the trip, the Presidential Office said Tsai would meet Ortega, though a time still had to be worked out.

        After she arrived in the capital Managua, reporters were taken to their hotel, but Tsai and her entourage were driven to the president’s party headquarters, reports said.

        Taiwanese journalists switched on the TV at the hotel and to their surprise, witnessed how Tsai’s meeting with Ortega and with his wife, Vice President-elect Rosario Murillo, was being broadcast live on a state channel, Canal 6, reports said.

        The Taiwanese media were too late to rush to the scene of the meeting and thus were forced to film the encounter off the TV screen.

        Presidential spokesman Alex Huang later explained that such bilateral presidential meetings were due to take place behind closed doors to be followed by a news conference, while ascribing the unexpected live broadcast as a product of “President Ortega’s enthusiasm.”

        Huang denied that the location of the meeting, party headquarters instead of the presidential residence, amounted to a downgrading and a lack of respect for Tsai.

        Legislators demanded that the government ask the Nicaraguan authorities for clarification on the matter.

        After Ortega’s inauguration, Tsai will travel to Guatemala and El Salvador and transit through San Francisco, California, before returning home on January 15.