US

Taiwan leader heads to Americas; US stops set to irk China

Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen delivers a speech before traveling to visit Central American allies including a U.S. transit, Saturday, Jan. 7, 2017, at the Taoyuan International Airport in Taouyuan, Taiwan. Tsai pledged to bolster Taiwan's presence on the international stage on her visit four Central American allies on a trip that includes U.S. transits and looks set to raise China's ire. (Central News Agency via AP)

Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen delivers a speech before traveling to visit Central American allies including a U.S. transit, Saturday, Jan. 7, 2017, at the Taoyuan International Airport in Taouyuan, Taiwan. Tsai pledged to bolster Taiwan's presence on the international stage on her visit four Central American allies on a trip that includes U.S. transits and looks set to raise China's ire. (Central News Agency via AP)  (The Associated Press)

Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen has set off to visit Central American allies, saying she wants to bolster Taiwan's presence on the international stage on a trip that includes transits in the U.S. that look set to raise China's ire.

Speaking to reporters before boarding her flight Saturday, Tsai said the visits would bolster relations with Taipei's allies and "show the international society that Taiwan is a capable and responsible partner for cooperation."

She will transit through Houston and San Francisco, stops that will likely irritate Beijing, which has urged Washington to prevent the self-ruled island's leader from stopping in the U.S.

It was not clear if Tsai would meet President-elect Donald Trump or anyone from his transition team, though analysts say she is likely to meet with U.S. politicians.