Taiwan’s Tsai meets US delegation after crucial vote

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Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen on Monday met U.S. delegates who arrived on the island on the heels of an election won by a pro-sovereignty candidate who Beijing said would bring war to the self-ruled island.

Voters defied Beijing’s repeated calls not to vote for Vice President Lai Ching-te, delivering a victory for a man China’s ruling Communist Party sees as a dangerous separatist who will take Taiwan down the “evil path” of independence.

Beijing, which claims the self-ruled island as its territory and has never renounced force to bring it under its control, insisted that the vote did not change the fact the island was part of China.

U.S. President Joe Biden’s administration sent an unofficial delegation to Taipei to meet senior political figures — a move expected to draw ire from Beijing, which objects to any country having even a hint of exchange with Taiwan.

It was not immediately clear whether the delegates would meet president-elect Lai.

They arrived in Taipei the day after the poll, and met with Tsai at the Presidential Office on Monday, according to AFP reporters at the scene.

The delegation consists of a former U.S. national security adviser and a former deputy secretary of state, and was led by the chair of the American Institute of Taiwan — the de facto U.S. embassy for the island.

Lai, of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), had vowed to defend the island from China’s “intimidation”, and Taipei’s foreign ministry told Beijing to accept the result.

Self-ruled Taiwan is not diplomatically recognised by most countries in the world, though the United States is a partner and its top weapons provider.

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