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Taiwan's Tsai arrives in NY for transit amid Chinese protests

Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen, center, listens as Michael Splinter, far left, chair of the Taiwan U.S. Chamber of Commerce, addresses the media as they arrive for the U.S. Taiwan Business Summit, on July 12, 2019, in New York. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)

TAIPEI (Kyodo) -- Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen arrived in New York on Thursday en route to diplomatic allies in the Caribbean amid Chinese calls for the United States to reject her transit stops.

Television footage showed Tsai receiving a warm welcome from Taiwanese compatriots and other supporters outside her midtown hotel, while a group of Chinese staged a protest across the street.

She later met with permanent representatives to the United Nations of Taiwan's diplomatic allies, according to the Presidential Office. It is the first time the president of Taiwan has ever done so in New York, where the United Nations is headquartered.

On Friday, Tsai will attend a business summit attended by U.S. business leaders. She will also host at a dinner organized by Taiwanese compatriots, to which Eliot Engel, chairman of the U.S. House of Representatives' Foreign Affairs Committee, and Steve Chabot, co-chair of the bipartisan Congressional Taiwan Caucus, have been invited.

On Saturday she will depart for Haiti, the first of four diplomatic allies in the Caribbean she is traveling to on her state visit.

In Beijing, the Chinese Foreign Ministry on Friday reiterated its opposition to official exchanges between the United States and Taiwan and called on Washington to not allow such transit stops.

Taiwan has no official diplomatic ties with the United States. Sitting leaders of the island are not permitted to visit except for transit stops.

Taiwan has just 17 diplomatic allies. 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 diplomatically squeeze Taiwan internationally since Tsai of the independence-leaning Democratic Progressive Party came to power in May 2016.

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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