Conflicting statement on meeting with DPP official shows US concerns about China’s response: expert
Published: Jan 27, 2022 12:32 AM
US Vice President Kamala Harris delivers remarks during the official launch of the CDC Southeast Asia Regional Office in Hanoi on August 25, 2021.?Photo:AFP

US Vice President Kamala Harris. Photo:AFP

US Vice President Kamala Harris has no plans to meet deputy regional leader of Taiwan Lai Ching-te during her trip to Honduras for the inauguration of President-elect Xiomara Castro, after Lai arrived in Los Angeles on Tuesday for a layover and talked with congressmen before his trip to Honduras, according to media reports on Wednesday. 

Experts said the seemingly contradictory actions and statements of the US showed the White House is wary of China's resolute response on the Taiwan question. However, China needs to be cautious as the stopover may be more important than a meeting  in Honduras.

The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) authority is using the stopover as an excuse to "interact" with US officials, a trick the DPP has been playing to seek secession. Whatever the trick is, nothing will change the fact that Taiwan is part of China, Zhu Fenglian, a spokesperson for the Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council, said on Wednesday.

Zhu added that China firmly opposes official interactions between the US and the Taiwan authority, urging the US not to send the wrong signal to secessionists and further damage the stability across the Taiwan Straits. 

Lai held talks with US politicians on seven online meetings, including a teleconference with 17 congressmen where they discussed trade as well as so-called "China threats," Taiwan media reported. However, the US State Department previously described Lai's stay in the country as "personal and unofficial," and was in keeping with its one-China policy.

Harris will lead a delegation to Honduras for the inauguration on Thursday, according to the White House. Honduras' relations with the Taiwan authority are on the brink of collapsing, as the new Honduran president vowed to cut ties with the island and establish relations with the Chinese central government after she takes office.    

When asked by VOA about whether she will meet with Lai during the trip, a senior official replied that Harris has no such plans. 

After wrapping up his visit to Honduras, Lai will make another stopover in San Francisco before returning to the island on Sunday, media reported.

For the DPP authority, the stopover in the US may be more important than attending the inauguration in Honduras, Wang Jianmin, a senior cross-Straits expert at Minnan Normal University, told the Global Times on Wednesday. 

"Harris and Lai are going to a third country, where there would have been a great possibility of them meeting, which would have meant a great deal for deepening ties," he said. "However, Harris' refusal to meet Lai shows that the White House has concerns over China's resolute response regarding the Taiwan question." 
"It does not want to break the one-China principle, step over China's red line, and cause more damage to China-US ties. It shows that the US still wants to cooperate with China and maintain this relationship," Wang said. 

But Wang also warned that future interactions of high-level officials between the US and Taiwan cannot be ruled out.