Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen talks with U.S. President-elect Donald Trump on December 2. She arrived Saturday in the U.S. en route to Central America as part of her nine-day trip. Photo courtesy of Office of the President of Taiwan
HOUSTON, Jan. 8 (UPI) -- Taiwan's president, headed to Central American after stopping overnight in Houston, met with Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and Sen. Ted Cruz but doesn't plan to meet with President-elect Donald Trump or any members of his transition team during her nine-day trip.
Tsai Ing-wen flew from Houston to Honduras on Sunday and plans to attend the inauguration Tuesday of Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega. She then will travel to Guatemala and El Salvador before stopping in San Francisco on Friday night en route home.
China is unhappy with her visit to the U.S., saying her "transit diplomacy" is a "hidden political agenda [that] should be clear to all."
Cruz said shortly before their meeting Sunday, the Houston congressional delegation received a "curious letter from the Chinese consulate" asking members of Congress not to meet with Tsai and to uphold the "One-China policy."
"The People's Republic of China needs to understand that in America we make decisions about meeting with visitors for ourselves," the Republican senator said in a statement. This is not about the PRC. This is about the U.S. relationship with Taiwan, an ally we are legally bound to defend. The Chinese do not give us veto power over those with whom they meet. We will continue to meet with anyone, including the Taiwanese, as we see fit.
China's foreign ministry also filed an official complaint to the United States after she spoke with Trump by phone on Dec. 2. There are no formal diplomatic relations between the United States and Taiwan. Before last month's chat, no American president or president-elect had spoken to any Taiwanese leaders since President Jimmy Carter in 1979 cut off official communications with the nation at the request of China.
A Trump transition official said no meetings were scheduled with Tsai during her trip.
Cruz said their meeting addressed addressed arms sales, diplomatic exchanges and economic relations. "Furthering economic cooperation between our two nations must be a priority; increased access to Taiwanese markets will benefit Texas farmers, ranchers and small business owners alike," Cruz said.
Abbott, the Republican governor, said in a statement they met to "discuss energy, trade relations and commercial ties between Taiwan and the State of Texas." That included exchange of natural gas and agricultural products, which Taiwan is a "major consumer." The two leaders also discussed the strong biotechnology sectors in Texas and Taiwan, and the potential for future cooperation in medical facility development."
During her visit last June on her way to Panama and Paraguay, she met with Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, a Republican.
The American Institute in Taiwan, which is the de facto U.S. embassy in Taipei, says her stopovers are a courtesy the U.S. government provides to Latin America-bound Taiwan leaders and are for private business only.