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In a snub to China, Taiwan's leader visits U.S.

Credit: Reuters Studio
Published on July 12, 2019 - Duration: 02:20s

In a snub to China, Taiwan's leader visits U.S.

Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen arrived in the United States on Thursday on a trip that has angered Beijing, warning that democracy must be defended and that the island faced threats from “overseas forces." Grace Lee reports.

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In a snub to China, Taiwan's leader visits U.S.

This is a pro-China rally in the middle of New York City.

Just across the street?

Pro-Taiwan protesters, ramping up tension between the two sides.

What's sparked all this is a visit from Taiwan's President to America.

Tsai Ing-Wen arrived in the U.S. on Thursday (July 11) in a trip that's made China very unhappy.

That's because China claims Taiwan as its own: a renegade province, rather than an independent state with rights to diplomacy.

It's something Tsai's been speaking out against in her trip abroad.

(SOUNDBITE) (Mandarin) TAIWAN'S PRESIDENT, TSAI ING-WEN, SAYING: "Taiwan will defend our democratic system.

Our democracy hasn't come easily and it's now being threatened by forces overseas." "Forces overseas" - that's a vague reference to Beijing.

Washington has described her visit as "private" - and "unofficial." And the State Department says there's been no change in its 'One-China' policy, which means the U.S. officially recognizes Beijing - and not Taipei.

But Tsai's longer-than-usual stop in America might be a message.

Analysts say it serves to emphasize the Trump Administration's support for her as Taiwan struggles under increasing pressure from Beijing.

(SOUNDBITE) (Mandarin) TAIWAN'S PRESIDENT, TSAI ING-WEN, SAYING: "We will work with countries with similar ideas to ensure the stability of our democratic system." To help bolster Taiwan's defenses, Washington this week also approved an arms sale to Taipei worth an estimated $2.2 billion.

That also came at the criticism of Beijing who warned the U.S. to cancel the sale immediately.

(SOUNDBITE) (Mandarin) CHINESE FOREIGN MINISTRY SPOKESMAN GENG SHUANG, SAYING: "Taiwan is an inseparable part of China and nobody should underestimate our government's determination to defend our country's sovereignty." Tsai faces re-election in January and has been calling for international support in the face of Chinese threats.

Beijing has been regularly sending military aircraft and ships to circle Taiwan in drills over the past few years.

According to a former U.S. representative to Taiwan, the Trump administration hasn't yet indicated a shift in its approach to Taiwan.

But change could be coming if its relations with Beijing go haywire in the midst of a year-long trade war.

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