Taiwan says it has contingency plans for China moves while president abroad

Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen leaves a news conference after referendum in Taipei
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TAIPEI (Reuters) - Taiwan's defence ministry has contingency plans for any moves by China during Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen's overseas visit, Deputy Defence Minister Po Horng-huei said on Wednesday ahead of Tsai going to the United States and Central America next week.

China, which claims democratically governed Taiwan as its own territory, carried out large-scale war games around the island last August after a visit to Taipei by then-U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

Tsai is visiting diplomatic allies Guatemala and Belize on a trip starting next week, but she will be stopping off in New York and Los Angeles.

While in California she is expected to meet current House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, the most sensitive leg of the trip, though Taiwan's presidential office on Tuesday declined to confirm that would take place.

Asked by reporters on the sidelines of a parliament session whether China was likely to stage more drills when Tsai is abroad, Po said the armed forces were prepared.

"When it comes to what the Chinese communists have done in the past, the defence ministry can have a grasp on it, and will consider the worse scenario," he said.

"During the president's overseas visit, the defence ministry has contingency plans for all moves" by China, Po added, declining to give details.

The United States has said there is no reason for China to react to Tsai's trip, saying such transits are routine and have happened many times before.

China, which has condemned Tsai's planned U.S. stop over, has continued its military activities around Taiwan since August, though on a much reduced scale.

Taiwan rejects China's sovereignty claims, saying on Taiwan's people can decide their future.

(Reporting by Ben Blanchard and Faith Hung; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman and Stephen Coates)