Lai introduced his arrival in New York on Saturday night in a put up on X, the platform beforehand generally known as Twitter.
“Completely satisfied to reach on the #BigApple, icon of liberty, democracy & alternatives,” he wrote, attaching a photograph alongside Bi-Khim Hsiao, who leads Taiwan’s unofficial embassy within the U.S., and Ingrid Larson, a managing director at America’s de facto embassy in Taiwan. “Trying ahead to seeing buddies & attending transit applications in #NewYork.”
His first stopover will solely be about 24 hours. Lai will go away New York Metropolis on Sunday to attend the inauguration of Paraguay’s new president, Santiago Peña Palacios. Paraguay is one among Taiwan’s 13 remaining diplomatic allies, and attending the occasion offers Lai — who’s main the polls within the race to succeed outgoing President Tsai Ing-wen in January — an opportunity to indicate off his overseas coverage chops and join with supporters.
Lai will get one other likelihood to do this when he transits in a single day in San Francisco on Aug. 15 on his method again to Taiwan.
In Saturday remarks earlier than leaving Taiwan, Lai briefly talked about making a transit cease in New York however talked broadly about partaking with completely different leaders.
“On this journey, I’ll have assured exchanges with world leaders and communicate with representatives from like-minded international locations,” Lai mentioned. “I’ll present the worldwide group that Taiwan is dedicated to values of freedom, democracy, and human rights, is an energetic participant in international affairs and has made many efforts to assist preserve peace within the Indo-Pacific area.”
The Taiwanese vp’s arrival in South America will happen amid stories that China has paid retailers in Paraguay to unfold destructive stories concerning the go to, in accordance with a launch from Taiwan’s Ministry of International Affairs condemning the motion.
Throughout a earlier U.S. transit cease in January 2022, Lai held video conferences from his Los Angeles lodge with 17 U.S. lawmakers. Beijing responded by lodging a “solemn illustration” with the U.S. authorities that included a requirement that the Biden administration “cease the inaccurate acts of getting official exchanges with Taiwan.” Taiwan’s president Tsai Ing-Wen visited the U.S. earlier this yr, assembly with Home Speaker Kevin McCarthy and a number of other different members of Congress, which China retaliated in opposition to by conducting three days of army workouts across the island.
Beijing “shouldn’t use as a pretext any transit by Vice President Lai for brazen coercion or different provocative actions [and] shouldn’t be a pretext for interference in Taiwan’s election both,” a senior administration official instructed reporters final month.
Lai’s profile because the main candidate to switch outgoing Tsai within the self-governing island’s January 2024 elections makes him doubly problematic for Beijing. He has strengthened his pro-Taiwan independence credentials by declaring in January that Taiwan “is already an unbiased and sovereign nation.”
Lai’s pro-independence rhetoric “is his [electoral] market share. He’s not going to stroll away from that,” mentioned Douglas Paal, former unofficial U.S. envoy to the self-governing island on the American Institute in Taiwan from 2002 to 2006.
And eyeing a attainable election victory, Lai mentioned final month that elected leaders of Taiwan must be welcomed to the White Home, a prospect which might signify a drastic departure to how the U.S. and the island have maintained relations since 1979 — in addition to a deep offense to Beijing.
“It’s as much as the Chinese language how they wish to play it,” mentioned Daniel Russel, a former senior Asia hand within the Obama administration. “Each critical [Taiwan presidential] candidate up to now has come to america for type of a casual base contact — there may be nothing new, radical or completely different about this.”