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Taiwan vice president to attend Paraguay presidential inauguration

Lai Ching-te to transit US for 11th time for Paraguay inauguration on August 15

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Paraguay's president-elect Santiago Pena and Lai Ching-te meet in Taipei on July 12, 2023. (Taiwan Presidential Office via AP)

Paraguay's president-elect Santiago Pena and Lai Ching-te meet in Taipei on July 12, 2023. (Taiwan Presidential Office via AP)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Vice President Lai Ching-te (賴清德) will attend the inauguration of Paraguay’s president-elect Santiago Pena in August, transiting the U.S. on the way, according to a foreign ministry announcement on Monday (July 17).

Pena will be inaugurated on August 15, and Lai will arrive in Paraguay one day prior to the event, per CNA. Vice Foreign Minister Alexander Yui (俞大㵢) made the announcement at the Presidential Office, also sharing that Lai will stop over in America.

When asked about concerns that China would be angered by Lai’s U.S. transit, Yui said that Lai said he had already worked to assist U.S. transits by Taiwan officials 10 times, and this 11th trip provided “no cause for unnecessary harassment.”

Lai’s attendance at Pena’s inauguration was announced after the Paraguay president-elect’s five-day visit to Taiwan, which began on July 12. Pena said during a meeting with Lai that maintaining bilateral relations with Taiwan is the best option for Paraguay, assailing concerns of a possible diplomatic split between the two countries that grew during the country’s election.

Pena was elected in a presidential race that sparked debates about the merits of the South American country’s formal diplomatic recognition of Taiwan. Pena’s opposition said that Paraguay would cut ties with Taiwan if elected, though Pena eventually won, securing around 43% of the vote.

Lai himself will stand for election in Taiwan’s presidential race in January 2024, running as the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) candidate. Current President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) is ineligible to stand for election again due to Taiwan’s presidential term limits.