WASHINGTON, UNITED STATES — The United States on Monday called for calm from China, which has voiced anger over a stopover in America by Taiwan’s vice president, with Washington describing the travel as routine.
William Lai, who is the frontrunner in Taiwan’s presidential election next year, stopped in New York and will return via San Francisco on a trip to Paraguay, one of a dwindling number of nations to recognize Taipei.
“There is no reason to overtorque this transit into anything escalatory,” State Department spokesman Vedant Patel told reporters.
He said it was the 11th time in the past two decades that a Taiwanese vice president has transited through the United States, which recognizes only Beijing despite its strong ties with self-governing democracy Taiwan.
“This is consistent with our One China policy. We are not interested in deviating from the status quo,” Patel said.
It should not be “any kind of pretext or coercion or provocative activity,” he said.
China has called Lai a “troublemaker” and vowed to take “resolute and forceful measures to safeguard national sovereignty.”
China claims Taiwan and has not ruled out using force to seize it. It launched major military exercises after Nancy Pelosi, then House speaker, visited Taiwan last year and later when President Tsai Ing-wen met top US lawmakers as she transited through the United States.
Lai is not expected to hold high-profile meetings although in remarks in New York, he vowed to “resist annexation” and “uphold the value of democracy and freedom.”
While not meeting him, the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Mike McCaul, led a statement welcoming Lai to the United States and calling on allies to “stand with Taiwan.”