TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) on Sunday (Aug. 19) visited NASA, the first sitting Taiwanese president to do so, a move that surely will enrage Communist China.
On Sunday, as part of her overseas "Celebration Tour" to visit diplomatic allies Paraguay and Belize with two transit stops in the U.S., Tsai toured NASA’s Johnson Space Center (JSC) in Houston, marking the first time a Taiwanese president has visited NASA and the first time one has visited an American federal building while in office.
During the tour, Tsai was first given an introduction to Mission Control Center by Flight Director Royce Renfrew, reported CNA. Tsai was joined by Deputy Director of the JSC Vanessa E. Wyche and Astronaut E. Michael Fincke, who then gave her a tour of the Space Vehicle Mockup Facility, as well as mockups of SpaceX, Starliner, Russia's Soyuz and Japanese, American and Russian space stations, according to the report.
E. Michael Fincke (left), President Tsai Ing-wen (right). (CNA image)
In response to a question by a reporter over whether this visit signals more cooperation between Taiwan and the U.S. in space, Taiwan's National Space Organization (NSPO) Deputy Director-General Yu Shiann-jeng (余憲政) said “Of course, cooperation with the United States will become more and more common,” reported CNA.
Tsai's visit to NASA is the latest in a number of unprecedented tours and courtesy provided by the U.S. to Taiwan's leaders following enactment of the “Taiwan Travel Act” (H.R.535) in March. After President Trump signed the bill into law, China stated that it will respond with "military pressure," and given that even the signing of a pillow at 85C Bakery Café last week sparked massive outrage in China, there will inevitably be some sort of retaliation by either the Chinese government or its army of online trolls to Tsai's visit to NASA.
After her visit, Tsai posted a photo of the Mission Control Center with the caption "Does everyone recognize this?"
Following the visit, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs posted the following Tweet:
This really is the right stuff. Great to join @iingwen in touring @NASA_Johnson & meeting @AstroIronMike. We sincerely appreciate this special #Houston opportunity made possible by #Taiwan’s friends in the #US. Thank you! JW pic.twitter.com/s7lq9rk1vP— 外交部 Ministry of Foreign Affairs, ROC (Taiwan)
Tsai singing her name on the cabin door of a space capsule. (CNA)