House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, (R-CA), will meet Wednesday with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-Wen. The Chinese government threatened retaliation and said this action would be a “provocation.”
Tsai left Taiwan for a 10-day trip to visit Central American allies, Belize and Guatemala. She has two stopovers, in New York on the way in, and Los Angeles on the way out. China urged the U.S. not to let her transit through the country. Prior to the confirmation of McCarthy and Tsai’s meeting, China’s Taiwan Affairs Office issued a warning against the trip.
“If she contacts US House Speaker McCarthy, it will be another provocation that seriously violates the one-China principle, harms China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, and destroys peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait,” Zhu Fenglian, the office’s spokesperson told a news conference.
Taiwan is a self-governing island democracy that China claims as its territory. Tsai said the Taiwanese government will “neither yield nor provoke” and that external pressure would not stop Taiwan from engaging in the world.
Tsai said, “When the international community needs Taiwan, Taiwan will contribute. And if Taiwan encounters difficulties, partners will support Taiwan.”
McCarthy’s office announced Monday that the House leader will host a bipartisan meeting with Tsai at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in California, but did not specify which other members of Congress would be in attendance.
The U.S. government said that Tsai’s transit through the country is “normal” and warned Beijing not to use it as a pretext for aggressive behavior. White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said last week that Tsai has met with U.S. officials and held public appearances in “all previous transits.”
In August last year, former U.S. Speaker Nancy Pelosi paid a visit to Taipei, which was met by China’s People’s Liberation Army surrounding Taiwan’s main island with days of live-fire drills disrupting sea and air traffic. Current Speaker McCarthy says he’d like to visit Taiwan, but the meeting with Tsai in California is being interpreted by observers as an attempt to avoid a repeat of the Pelosi visit.
Taiwan confirmed last week that there have been no changes to China’s usual military deployment area, which has included sending warplanes toward the island almost daily.