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US criticizes planned island visit by Taiwan president

/ 07:55 AM January 28, 2016
Ma Ying-jeou

Taiwan’s President Ma Ying-jeou smiles as he announces his South China Sea Peace Initiative during the 2015 ILA-ASIL Asia Pacific Research Forum in Taipei, Taiwan, Tuesday, May 26, 2015. AP File Photo

WASHINGTON, United States—The State Department is criticizing plans by Taiwan’s outgoing president to visit a Taiwanese-occupied islet in the disputed South China Sea.

READ: Taiwan president Ma Ying-jeou to visit disputed island for first time

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Spokesman Mark Toner said Wednesday the U.S. was disappointed by President Ma Ying-jeou’s plans to travel to the Taiping Island as it could exacerbate tensions.

Taiwanese media reported Ma is scheduled to visit the island Thursday, his first trip there during his eight years as president. His term ends in May.

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It comes less than two weeks after his Nationalist Party, which has cultivated closer ties with mainland China, was defeated in presidential and legislative elections.

READ: Pro-independence party candidate claims win in Taiwan vote

The incoming party leans toward independence for Taiwan, which Beijing claims to be part of China.

Taiwan is one of six governments with territorial claims in the South China Sea.

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TAGS: criticism, Diplomacy, dispute, island, President Ma Ying-jeou, Taiwan, Territory, US, visit
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