(Taipei) Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen will travel to Guatemala and Belize next week with two stops in the United States, the island’s foreign ministry said Tuesday.

Ms. Tsai will leave for ten days on March 29, stopping in New York and Los Angeles, the ministry said.

Belize and Guatemala are among 14 countries to officially recognize Taiwan over China. This figure could drop to 13, because Honduras intends to establish official relations with Beijing, abandoning Taipei.

The president is due to meet her Guatemalan counterpart, Alejandro Giammattei, and the prime minister of Belize, John Briceno.

The visit of the leader will come two weeks after the diplomatic reversal of Honduras.

In August 2022, the visit to Taiwan by Nancy Pelosi, then Speaker of the United States House of Representatives, infuriated Beijing and triggered large-scale Chinese military maneuvers around the self-administered island in retaliation.

Taiwanese Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Yui did not say whether Tsai Ing-wen had planned to meet Ms. Pelosi’s successor, Kevin McCarthy, in Los Angeles.

He only indicated that “his transit route was properly arranged with the United States”.

Mr. McCarthy in any case said this month that he would meet with Ms. Tsai in California, with the US State Department downplaying the meeting in the face of Chinese outrage.

China considers Taiwan to be one of its provinces to be taken back, by force if necessary. In the name of its “One China” principle, no country is supposed to maintain official ties with Beijing and Taipei at the same time.

On Tuesday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin reiterated his country’s opposition to official exchanges between Taiwan and the United States.

In Washington, State Department spokesman Vedant Patel again stressed on Tuesday that there was nothing abnormal about Taiwanese officials transiting through the United States and meeting with elected officials or participating there. in public meetings, in keeping with “our one-China policy which remains unchanged”.

Washington, which nevertheless granted diplomatic recognition to Beijing in 1979, is the island’s most powerful ally as well as its main arms supplier.

Central America has been a strategic region for Beijing and Taipei since the end of the Chinese Civil War in 1949.

Nicaragua, El Salvador, Panama, the Dominican Republic and Costa Rica have changed their diplomatic recognition in favor of Beijing in recent years.

These reversals are more numerous since the election of Tsai Ing-wen, who advocates a tougher policy towards China by affirming that Taiwan is an independent nation not subordinate to its neighbor.