Taiwan Leader Set to Meet US House Speaker Despite China Warning

President Tsai Ing-wen meets with senior US security officials to discuss "regional situation" ahead of her meeting with US House Speaker Kevin McCarthy.

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Taiwan has pushed back against threats of retaliation by China, ahead of an expected meeting between the island’s president and the US House speaker that will underscore her administration’s claim to sovereignty.

The meeting on Wednesday outside Los Angeles comes on what is technically a stopover for President Tsai Ing-wen, after her two-country trip in Latin America to visit Taiwan’s few remaining official allies.

Tsai also met with senior security officials on Tuesday to discuss the “regional situation” ahead of her meeting with US House Speaker Kevin McCarthy in California, which China has demanded not take place.

Beijing calls Taiwan as its breakaway province and balks at any official contact Taipei has with other countries.

This week it warned McCarthy, a Republican and California native who is second in line to the US presidency, that he was “playing with fire” by meeting Tsai.

“China is strongly opposed to the US arranging for Tsai Ing-wen to transit through its territory, and is strongly opposed to the meeting between House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, the third-ranking US official, and Tsai Ing-wen,” Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mao Ning told reporters.

“It seriously violates the One-China principle and the three China-US joint communiques, and seriously undermines China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity,” she said.

The United States formally recognises Beijing and One-China principle, but is an important backer of Taiwan, and maintains strong unofficial ties.

Taipei enjoys strong bipartisan support in the US Congress, and has grown closer to Washington under Tsai’s leadership.

‘Threatening things’

Last year, McCarthy’s predecessor, Democrat Nancy Pelosi sparked fury in Beijing by becoming the most senior US politician to visit the island in over two decades.

That prompted Beijing to launch its largest-ever military exercises in waters around Taiwan.

McCarthy had originally planned to go himself, but has opted instead to meet Tsai at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California.

His office said that the meeting would be “bipartisan,” while US media reported that over a dozen other members of Congress would attend.

The decision to meet in the United States was viewed as a compromise that would underscore support for Taiwan but avoid inflaming tensions with China.

Tsai’s visit to southern California comes after trips to Guatemala and Belize and after a brief stop in New York last week, where she was greeted by flag-waving Taiwanese expatriates.

“We have demonstrated a firm will and resolve to defend ourselves, that we are capable of managing risks with calm and composure and that we have the ability to maintain regional peace and stability,” she said in New York.

China’s consulate in Los Angeles said on Monday the meeting in California would “greatly hurt the national feelings of 1.4 billion Chinese people” and undermine “the political foundation of China-US relations.”


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