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Taiwan's Tsai to visit 3 South Pacific allies next week

Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen (Kyodo)

TAIPEI (Kyodo) -- Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen plans to visit three of the island's diplomatic allies in the South Pacific Ocean next week, the Presidential Office said Tuesday, as China continues to squeeze its international presence.

It will be Tsai's sixth overseas trip and second visit to South Pacific allies since she took office in May 2016.

Vice Foreign Minister Hsu Szu-chien told a press conference at the Presidential Office that Tsai will embark on an eight-day, seven-night state visit on March 21 to Palau, where she will meet President Tommy Remengesau Jr. to exchange views on bilateral relations and international issues.

Tsai will then travel to Nauru on March 24 where she will meet President Baron Divavesi Waqa and address the parliament.

Tsai is scheduled to arrive in the Marshall Islands on March 26. During her stay there, Tsai will meet President Hilda Heine and attend the Pacific Women Leaders Coalition Conference.

Tsai is scheduled to arrive back in Taiwan on the evening of March 28.

Among the 17 nations that officially recognize Taiwan, nine are in Latin America and the Caribbean, six in the Pacific, one in Africa and one -- the Vatican -- in Europe.

China has stepped up its efforts to isolate Taiwan internationally since Tsai of the independence-leaning Democratic Progressive Party came to power.

Last year alone, three of Taiwan's diplomatic allies severed ties with Taipei and established them with Beijing. El Salvador was the fifth country to do so since Tsai assumed office.

Taiwan and mainland China have been governed separately since they split amid a civil war in 1949. Beijing has since then endeavored to diplomatically isolate Taiwan, which it regards as a renegade province awaiting reunification.

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