Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen landed on American soil on Saturday, 28 October, despite a strong protest from China not to allow the female leader to visit any US territory. Tsai landed in Honolulu while en route to Pacific states in her attempts to challenge China's efforts to diplomatically isolate Taiwan.

Tsai will travel to Marshall, Solomon Islands and Tuvalu via the US territories of Guam and Hawaii. Those three Pacific islands are among a handful of states which have separate diplomatic relations with Taiwan.

China considers Taiwan as its own territory and tensions have escalated under Tsai, Taiwan's first female president, ever since she took charge in 2016 championing strong nationalist sentiments. China has not ruled out a full-scale invasion against Taiwan if it deems it necessary.

Beijing suspects Tsai is seeking full-fledged independence for Taiwan. "We want to prove to the world that Taiwan is capable of, and is willing to, make more contributions to the international community," said the Taiwanese leader ahead of her departure.

Beijing's foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said his country has made "stern representations" to Washington over Tsai's transit through the US territories. He urged Washington to strictly adhere to the "One-China Policy".

Her visit also comes a few months after the Central American nation of Panama snapped diplomatic ties with Taiwan, bringing the number of countries having direct diplomatic relations with Taipei to 20.

Officially, Tsai's latest week-long visit is to look for an "opportunity to better understand the sustainable development needs of the two countries and determine how [Taiwan] can assist in line with steadfast diplomacy".

The tour also takes place two weeks ahead of a crucial visit by US President Donald Trump to China.