Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen arrived on the U.S. Pacific island of Guam on Friday on her way back from visiting diplomatic allies in the Pacific – a trip that caused strong objections from China, which claims Taiwan as its own.
Beijing had urged the United States not to allow Tsai to transit its territory on her trip, which included two days in Hawaii before she headed on to Tuvalu, the Solomon Islands and the Marshall Islands, Reuters reports.
While the office of Guam Governor Edward Calvo described Tsai’s visit as “private and unofficial”, she was provided with a police escort upon her arrival.
Speaking at a banquet, Tsai said that “Taiwan and Guam share a unique friendship.”
She described Guam as the “closest part of the United States” to Taiwan, adding: “The people of Taiwan are grateful for your support.”
James F. Moriarty, chairman of the American Institute in Taiwan, the U.S. mission in Taiwan, said Hawaii, Guam and Taiwan were bound together not only by the Pacific Ocean but also by “an expectation of democracy.”
Guam is home to a large U.S. military base and would be key to any U.S. assistance to Taiwan in the event of a conflict with China. Beijing has never renounced the possible use of force to bring the island under its control.