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September 24, 2017

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Tsai pays respects after death of Thai king

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- President Tsai Ing-wen visited Thailand's representative office in Taipei on Monday to pay respects after the death of the country's King Bhumibol Adulyadej last week.

The president visited a makeshift memorial at the Thailand Trade and Economic Office, clasping her hands together and bowing to Thai diplomatic officials who received her in a room bedecked in white and black and vases with white flowers and a painting of the late Bhumibol.

Thai officials showed the president a wall of photos depicting the king's state visit to Taiwan in 1963, in which the king could be seen accompanied by host former President Chiang Kai-shek.

Meanwhile, the Presidential Office denied local media reports that Tsai was planning to make a trip to attend the king's funeral in Thailand and had requested that national carrier China Airlines prepare a chartered flight for such purposes.

"Such a report does not conform to the truth. We have made no such plans," the Presidential Office said in a subsequent statement.

Piroon Laismit, the executive director of Bangkok's representative office said he did not know whether an invitation had been extended to Taiwan for the funeral and that arrangements were still being made due to the king's untimely death.

Taiwan and Thailand have not had official diplomatic relations since 1975.

Piroon also pointed to "inaccurate reports" from many local media outlets in Taiwan regarding the succession of King Bhumibol Adulyadej.

He implored the media to avoid such reports especially during this sensitive time of national mourning in Thailand.


In her own hand, Tsai wrote a note in a book of condolence messages: "On behalf of the people of the Republic of China (Taiwan), I hereby extend my most profound condolences to the Royal family and the people of Tailand (sic) for their loss of a great leader, His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej."

Tsai signed her message "Ing-wen Tsai, president, Republic of China (Taiwan), Oct. 17, 2016."

After local Chinese-language media pointed out that the note contained a misspelling of "Thailand," the president issued an apology to the representative office, which expressed its understanding while thanking Tsai for showing concern for the Thai people.

Foreign Minister David Lee stated that the president's error was "absolutely unintentional," adding that he had committed such mistakes himself.

The president's error was not so lightly received by Kuomintang official Alex Tsai, who posted an image of the misspelling with the caption, "You're sure you've studied English before?"

He called on the president to improve her English proficiency.

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