External pressure will not stop Taiwan from engaging with the world, President Tsai Ing-wen said on Wednesday (March 29) as she left for the United States, hitting a defiant note after China threatened retaliation if she met US House Speaker Kevin McCarthy.
China, which claims democratically-ruled Taiwan as its own territory, has repeatedly warned U.S. officials not to meet Tsai, viewing it as support for the island’s desire to be seen as a separate country.
China staged war games around Taiwan last August when then-US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited Taipei, and Taiwan’s armed forces have said they are keeping watch for any Chinese moves when Tsai is abroad.
Tsai is going to Guatemala and Belize, transiting through New York first and Los Angeles on the way back. While not officially confirmed, she is expected to meet McCarthy while in California.
“External pressure will not hinder our determination to go to the world,” she said at Taiwan’s main international airport at Taoyuan, in a veiled reference to China.
“We are calm and confident, will neither yield nor provoke. Taiwan will firmly walk on the road of freedom and democracy and go into the world. Although this road is rough, Taiwan is not alone,” she added.