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Fights break out as Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen visits New York

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Police in New York had to break up fights between supporters and opponents of Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen on Thursday during a visit to the United States which infuriated Beijing.

Taiwanese media broadcast footage of the clashes outside the Grand Hyatt, where Tsai is staying during her two-day US trip.

Opponents of Tsai — many waving Chinese flags — chanted slogans and fought with supporters, while one man was seen being detained and handcuffed by police.

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Tsai is spending two days in New York ahead of a visit to diplomatic allies in the Caribbean.

Normally the head of a state passing through American soil would not spark controversy but Taiwan has long found itself in a precarious and unusual diplomatic situation.

The democratic island has ruled itself for seven decades but most countries do not recognize it — including the United States, which switched diplomatic recognition from Taipei to Beijing in 1979.

Yet Washington remains its most powerful unofficial ally and biggest arms supplier.

China sees Taiwan as part of its own territory and has vowed to one day seize it, by force if necessary.

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It bristles at any countries that might lend Taiwan diplomatic support or legitimacy.

“China is firmly opposed to official exchanges between the US and Taiwan,” said Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang at a press briefing on Friday.

“We urge the US… to not let Tsai Ing-wen pass through its territory,” he said, adding that the US should not provide a platform for “Taiwan independence separatist forces.”

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With the US currently engaged in a trade war with China, relations between Taipei and Washington have warmed considerably.

Unlike the last three American presidents, who were wary of angering Beijing, Donald Trump has ramped up relations with Taiwan.

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Last week the State Department approved $2.2 billion arms sale to Taiwan, including battle tanks and anti-aircraft missiles, the first big-ticket military deal for the island in years.

Tsai transited through the US during a trip to the Pacific earlier this year, as well as last year’s visit to Paraguay and Belize, both prompting official Chinese protests.

“Taiwan will not succumb to intimidation,” her office said in a statement released as the US visit kicked off, without specifically mentioning China. “All difficulties will only strengthen our determination to go out to the international community.”

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On Thursday evening Tsai met with envoys from the 17 remaining countries that still recognize Taiwan.

She will attend a business forum on Friday and meet students on Saturday morning before heading to the Caribbean.

Tsai will visit Haiti, St Vincent and the Grenadines, St Lucia, and St Kitts and Nevis, which all recognize Taiwan.

China has poached five of Taipei’s dwindling number of allies since Tsai became president in 2016.

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Haiti has vowed to maintain ties with Taipei despite neighboring Dominican Republic establishing relations with China last year.

Taiwan pledged a $150 million development loan to Haiti, while Beijing reportedly offered the Dominican Republic investments and loans to the tune of $3 billion.


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The Republicans’ impeachment lawyer made 2 huge mistakes in questioning Gordon Sondland

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Ambassador Gordon Sondland delivered complex and convoluted impeachment testimony on Wednesday about his involvement in President Donald Trump’s Ukraine scandal. He gave detailed evidence recounting the president and the rest of the administration’s involvement in his effort to get Ukraine to launch investigations of Trump’s political opponents — including by leveraging a potential White House meeting and a hold on military aid.

But he also, to the Republicans’ delight, left some ambiguity about how much Trump had been involved in the effort to leverage the aid, saying that he had “presumed” Ukraine’s announcement of the investigations would release the hold. And he noted that, in one phone call the president — as the scheme was slowly being uncovered — Trump angrily denied there was a quid pro quo.

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Rick Santorum smacked down for claiming Sondland testimony helped Trump

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On Wednesday's edition of CNN's "Cuomo Prime Time," former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA) tried to argue that the testimony of E.U. Ambassador Gordon Sondland actually helped President Donald Trump — and was promptly challenged.

"I think the Democrats had a good morning. I don't think they had a good afternoon," said Santorum. "I think what when the Republicans actually started questioning Sondland about the details, I think it fell apart a little bit."

"How so?" asked Chris Cuomo.

"He said the president never said any of these things to him," said Santorum. "In fact, what the president said, he quoted what the president said is, no, there's no quid pro quo. What he says is, well, I'm surmising, this is what I'm just sort of gathering. Did anything come from the president? No, it came from Rudy Giuliani."

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‘The cost of acquitting Donald Trump just went up’ for the Republicans: MSNBC’s Joy Ann Reid

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MSNBC host Joy Ann Reid explained during the post-hearing wrap-up that things aren't looking good for Republican senators up for reelection in 2020.

In the wake of EU Ambassador Gordon Sondland's testimony, things are getting more difficult for Republicans faced with a vote on impeachment.

"Even if [the numbers] don't move, the problem is going to be a lot of these people have to run for re-election, letting the president off the hook when it's pretty clear what happened," Reid said. "This is pretty simple, and if I'm Cory Gardener (R-CO), I'm not feeling great."

Brian Williams noted that Rep. Will Hurd (R-TX) is one of the many Republicans "who's leaving town on a fast horse." If anyone could be pealed off by Democrats, Williams thinks it is Hurd.

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