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Taiwan leader's 'transit' sparks protests

By MINLU ZHANG in New York | China Daily | Updated: 2023-04-01 09:09

A crowd of protesters on Thursday gathered in front of a hotel in Manhattan where Taiwan leader Tsai Ing-wen was scheduled to appear, holding signs saying, "Taiwan is an inalienable part of the Chinese territory," and "There is only one China in the world." MINLU ZHANG / CHINA DAILY

Protests opposed to the United States visit of Taiwan leader Tsai Ingwen continued on Thursday in New York, with many people calling for a focus on economic issues instead of helping to arm Taiwan and agitate for its "independence".

"Tsai Ing-wen is here to sell a war, and we Americans don't want that war. We love our country, we want jobs and schools for Americans, not more weapons to Taiwan," said Caleb Maupin, a US citizen in New York.

A crowd of 100 people in Midtown Manhattan on Thursday waved Chinese and US national flags and held signs saying: "There is only one China in the world", "Support China's reunification and resolutely oppose 'Taiwan independence'" and "'Taiwan independence' is a dead end".

Many in the crowd were from Fujian province, a province on the southeast coast of China. The island of Taiwan lies to its east, across the Taiwan Straits.

"Fujian and Taiwan are very close. We have a very good friendship, and we are connected by blood. Many people in Taiwan were originally from Fujian. Tsai's 'transit' hurts our feelings," Chen Heng, chairman of the Fukien American Association, told China Daily.

Also gathered nearby, other protesters held signs saying, "Money for jobs and infrastructure in America! No more weapons to Taiwan".

Thursday's protest was the third of its kind. When Tsai arrived in New York on Wednesday, a large crowd of protesters also gathered near the Manhattan hotel where she was staying. Those protests, organized by several Chinese communities, were attended by more than 700 people.

On Thursday, a senior official from the island of Taiwan alleged Chinese mainland authorities of paying people to attend the protests.

China's Deputy Consul General in New York Qian Jin later refuted the claim and said the protests were spontaneous.

"There's no need of involvement of the Chinese consulate" in the demonstrations, Qian said on Thursday." It's a reflection and demonstration of the real needs and heart of the Chinese communities here. I have the feeling that the majority of the Chinese community living here want peace in the Taiwan Straits. They don't want it to become a war zone. That's why they are against Tsai's so-called 'transit' in the US."

A healthy relationship between China and the US and a stable situation in the Taiwan Straits is in the best interests of Chinese communities here, said Qian.

Tsai is reportedly scheduled to travel through New York and Los Angeles on a 10-day trip to and from some Central American countries, during which time she plans to meet with US House Speaker Kevin McCarthy in Los Angeles.

"It doesn't look like a private visit; it is not so much a 'transit'," said Qian. He said it would be the first time the Biden administration allowed the "transit" of Tsai, and it would be the first time for the US House speaker to meet Tsai on US soil if it happens, and would be the first time for Tsai to give public speeches in the US.

"If all these are the case, how can you call it a 'transit'? I think it's just using the name of 'transit' to seek official interactions with the US to make a breakthrough and seek to propagate 'Taiwan independence'," Qian said.

Lia Zhu in San Francisco contributed to this story.

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