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Taiwan's VP Lai to make stopover in US on way to Honduras

Chinese state media enraged by what it calls a ‘transit trick’

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Taiwanese Vice President Lai Ching-te (Presidential Office photo)

Taiwanese Vice President Lai Ching-te (Presidential Office photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Taiwan’s Vice President Lai Ching-te (賴清德) will make a stopover in the U.S. on route to Honduras next week, said Presidential Office spokesperson Xavier Chang (張惇涵) on Thursday (Jan. 20).

Lai will travel to visit Taiwan’s Central American ally for the inauguration of President-elect Xiomara Castro. He will transit both to and from the country via the U.S. cities of Los Angeles and San Francisco.

Chang says Lai will depart on January 25 and after embarking in Los Angeles will stay for one night, before boarding a transit flight to Honduras on January 27. On his return, Lai will stop in San Francisco for one night on January 29, and is expected to touch down back in Taiwan on the evening of January 30.

The U.S. will welcome Lai and the Taiwan delegation yet, due to the pandemic, will only be able to interact online, per CNA. During his stopover, Lai will join several virtual meetings with American lawmakers.

Despite this being a common route for Taiwanese leaders to go by when they travel to visit their allies in the Americas, it has nonetheless incensed Beijing. Chinese state media reacted with predictable outrage, reporting that “Lai will play a trick to transit in the US” which it called “despicable political maneuvering.”

The Tsai government has outlined how Lai’s trip will accomplish three goals and will deepen relations with Honduras, one of only 14 of Taiwan’s allies. Honduran leaders have recently signaled their interest in dropping Taiwan for China, despite Washington constantly cautioning against such a diplomatic swap.