State visits are the pinnacle of diplomatic ceremony and the utmost expression of friendly bilateral relations between countries. Their pomp and circumstance – the 21-gun salutes, state dinners, and cultural events – confer honor and respect upon the visiting head of state and his or her country. The symbolic power of state visits makes them a much-prized asset in international relations. But for the Republic of China (R.O.C. or Taiwan), which is only recognized by 22 small countries, there is something more important: unofficial presidential transit stops in the United States.
Alan Romberg, Distinguished Fellow and the Director of the East Asia Program at Washington think tank the Stimson Center, sees nothing particularly special about Tsai’s transit stop itinerary. “The U.S. has quite smooth and frequent communication not only with other senior Taiwan officials but with Tsai, herself,” says Romberg.
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