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Ted Cruz and Texas governor defy China edict to meet with president of Taiwan

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U.S. Senator Ted Cruz and Texas Governor Greg Abbott met with the president of Taiwan on Sunday during a stopover in Houston that was sure to pique Chinese leaders already upset by her conversation with President-elect Donald Trump.

It is not unusual for U.S. lawmakers to meet with Taiwanese leaders when they pass through the country, but tensions are high this winter after Trump, who like Cruz and Abbott is a Republican, spoke to Tsai Ing-wen last month.

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The telephone conversation broke with decades of precedent and cast doubt on his incoming administration’s commitment to Beijing’s “one China” policy.

Cruz, who represents Texas, said some members of Congress had received a letter from the Chinese consulate asking them not to meet with Tsai during her stopovers.

“The People’s Republic of China needs to understand that in America we make decisions about meeting with visitors for ourselves,” Cruz said in a statement. “This is not about the PRC. This is about the U.S. relationship with Taiwan, an ally we are legally bound to defend.”

China is deeply suspicious of Tsai, who it thinks wants to push for the formal independence of Taiwan, a self-governing island that Beijing regards as a renegade province, ineligible for state-to-state relations.

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The United States, which switched diplomatic recognition from Taiwan to China in 1979, has acknowledged the Chinese position that there is only “one China” and that Taiwan is part of it.”

Tsai scheduled stopovers in San Francisco and Houston on her way to visit allies in Central America, including Honduras, Nicaragua, Guatemala and El Salvador.

Beijing had urged the United States not to let her into the country.

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Cruz said he and the Taiwanese leader discussed upgrading bilateral relations and furthering economic cooperation between their countries, including increased access to Taiwanese markets that will benefit Texas ranchers, farmers and small businesses.

Abbott said in a Twitter post that he also met with Tsai on Sunday and that they discussed “expanding trade and economic opportunities.”

(Reporting by Doina Chiacu and Julia Harte; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn)

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Torn by Brexit, Labour to vote on way out of the crisis

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Britain's main opposition Labour Party prepared to vote Monday on a new Brexit strategy that could unite its warring factions and avoid a potential drubbing in early polls.

Britain is hurtling toward its October 31 departure from the European Union without an exit agreement and facing the threat of border disruptions that the government admits could cause food shortages and spark civil unrest.

Yet the same disputes over ways out of the crisis that saw Prime Minister Boris Johnson's right-wing Conservatives lose their working majority -- and make a general election appear inevitable -- are also fraying Labour on the left.

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UK travel giant Thomas Cook set to collapse: report

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Thomas Cook's 178-year existence was reported to be coming to an end on Monday after the British travel firm struggled to find private investment to keep it afloat, potentially affecting thousands of holidaymakers.

The operator has said it needs £200 million ($250 million) or else it will face administration, which could affect 600,000 holidaymakers and require Britain's largest peacetime repatriation.

A source close to the negotiations told AFP that the company had failed to find the cash from private investors and would collapse unless the government intervened.

But ministers are unlikely to step in due to worries about the pioneering operator's longer-term viability, the Times reported, leaving it on the brink.

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‘We are the people’: Watch Billy Porter get a standing ovation for his passionate speech at the Emmys

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In a powerful and passionate speech accepting his Emmy, "Pose" actor Billy Porter showered the audience with love and proudly reminded all of their right to belong and be loved.

"Oh, my God. God bless you all! The category is love, y'all, love!" Porter exclaimed.

The epic FX show "Pose" depicts Black and Latinos in the LGBTQ ballroom culture of New York City in the 1980s in the first season and the early 1990s in the second season.

"I am so overwhelmed and so overjoyed to have lived long enough to see this day," he said. "James Baldwin wrote, 'It took many years of vomiting up the filth I was taught about myself and half-believed, before I was able to walk on the earth as though I had a right to be here.' I have the right. You have the right. We all have the right."

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