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Taiwanese president stirs controversy with planned US stops

Taiwan's president will pass through Houston and San Francisco next month while travelling to Central America, in a move which is likely to irritate the Chinese government.

Beijing has urged Washington to prevent president Tsai Ing-wen and her delegation from landing in the US as she travels to visit Honduras, Nicaragua, Guatemala and El Salvador.

The delegation will land in Houston on the way, before stopping in San Francisco on the return trip.

China has urged the US to avoid "sending the wrong signal to Taiwanese independence forces" by allowing the delegation to land.

Beijing regards the self-governing island as part of China, and officials have raised concerns after US president-elect Donald Trump this month questioned a US policy which recognises Beijing as Taiwan's government, and has maintained only unofficial relations with Taiwan since 1979.

Mr Trump also accepted a phone call from Ms Tsai in early December, the first time an American president or president-elect has publicly spoken to a Taiwanese leader since 1979.

The Taiwanese news agency's report said Ms Tsai's delegation would arrange banquets with US-based Taiwanese people and visit companies. It did not say whether Ms Tsai would meet Donald Trump or anyone from his transition team.

US politicians often meet with Taiwanese presidents when they transit through the US - most recently in June, when Ms Tsai met Republican senator Marco Rubio of Florida in Miami.

Earlier this week, the spokesman for the Chinese Cabinet's Taiwan affairs office called Taiwan the "most sensitive and complicated issue in China-US relations".

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