Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen will transit through Houston and San Francisco during her January visit to Latin America, her office said on Friday.
The move is bound to anger China, which had urged the US to block any stopover.
“We hope the U.S. can abide by the ‘one China’ policy…and not let her pass through their border, not give any false signals to Taiwan independence forces, and through concrete actions safeguard overall US-China relations and peace and stability in the Taiwan strait,” Hua Chunying, a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, told a briefing in Beijing.
Tsai’s office declined to comment on whether she would be meeting members of president-elect Donald Trump’s team ahead of his January 20 inauguration, but the US mission in Taiwan said the visit would be “private and unofficial”.
Trump angered China when he spoke on the phone to Tsai this month in a break with decades of precedent and cast doubt on his incoming administration’s commitment to Beijing’s “one China” policy.
China is deeply suspicious of Tsai, believing she wants to push for the formal independence of Taiwan, a self-governing island that Beijing regards as a renegade province.
The United States, which switched diplomatic recognition from Taiwan to China in 1979, has acknowledged the Chinese position that there is only “one China” and that Taiwan is part of it.
Tsai is transiting in the United States on her way to and from visiting Honduras, Nicaragua, Guatemala and El Salvador.
Tsai will arrive in Houston on January 7 and leave the following day.
On her way back, she will arrive in San Francisco on January 13.
The US said the transit did not contradict the “one China” policy.
“President Tsai’s transit through the United States is based on long-standing US practice and is consistent with the unofficial nature of our relations with Taiwan,” Alys Spensley, acting US mission spokeswoman, said.
“There is no change to the US ‘one China’ policy,” she added.
China’s sole aircraft carrier, accompanied by several warships, sailed close to Taiwan this week, which followed on from air force exercises also close to Taiwan.
Chinese Defence Ministry spokesman Yang Yujun repeated that the drills were routine, but added that such drills did have Taiwan in mind.
“The military’s holding of exercises is beneficial to raising our ability to oppose Taiwan independence and protecting the country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, and beneficial to protecting the peaceful development of cross-Taiwan Strait relations and peace and stability there,” he told reporters.
– with AAP