Taiwan president making state visits amid China stalemate

Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen is setting off for the United States and three South Pacific nations in an effort to crack the diplomatic isolation imposed by rival China.

Tsai will visit the Marshall and Solomon Islands along with Tuvalu, three of only 20 countries that extend Taiwan formal diplomatic recognition. Like most other Taiwan allies, the three are developing nations that look to Taiwan for economic support.

Tsai's travels follow Panama's switching of diplomatic relations to Beijing in June in what was seen as a major diplomatic setback for Taiwan.

China claims sovereignty over democratic, self-ruled Taiwan, which split from the mainland amid civil war in 1949, and uses diplomatic and economic clout to squelch the island's international relations. Washington does not formally recognize Taiwan but maintains close ties.