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Taiwanese President Ing-Wen Makes Rare Stopover In LA En Route To Latin America

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA/AP) - The president of Taiwan was briefly in Los Angeles this week as part of an eight-day swing through Paraguay and Belize.

Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen spoke Monday at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, marking the first time in 15 years that a Taiwanese leader has spoken publicly on U.S. soil, according to reports.

The move was expected to roil Beijing, which views Taiwan as part of Chinese territory despite a civil war in 1949 that saw the two sides split.

Ing-wen's stop in Los Angeles marks the most high-profile visit to an American city since 2003, when former Taiwan president Chen Shui-bian accepted a human rights award in New York.

During her time in L.A., the president met with a San Fernando Valley congressman Rep. Brad Sherman, who said "the time is now to admit Taiwan into the [World Health Organization]".

Ing-wen also met with a local Taiwanese-American youth group and Colorado Senator Cory Gardner.

Her trip comes in the midst of a suffocating Chinese pressure campaign.

Just 18 countries -- mostly clustered in Latin America, the South Pacific and Caribbean -- still maintain formal ties with the self-ruling island, down from 22 when Tsai entered office in 2016.

Ties between the U.S. and Taiwan have warmed under President Donald Trump, who earlier this week increased U.S. military support to Taiwan as part of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).

(© Copyright 2018 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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