US House Speaker Kevin McCarthy to meet Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen in California

WASHINGTON: Republican US House Speaker Kevin McCarthy said on Monday (Apr 3) he will meet Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen in California on Wednesday, a move China has said would be a provocation.

“On Wednesday, Apr 5, Speaker Kevin McCarthy will be hosting a bipartisan meeting with the President of Taiwan at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library,” his office announced in a statement.

Tsai is stopping over in the United States en route to Central America, where she has met the leaders of Guatemala and is visiting Belize before meeting with McCarthy.

During a banquet in New York last week, Tsai said: “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.”

The spokesperson for China’s Taiwan Affairs Office, Zhu Fenglian, had previously denounced Tsai’s stopovers and demanded that no US officials meet with her.

“We firmly oppose this and will take resolute countermeasures,” Zhu said at a news conference last week.

China’s foreign ministry said on Monday that Beijing strongly opposes any form of official interaction between the US and Taiwan authorities.

“There is but one China in the world and Taiwan is an inalienable part of China. China will take resolute measures to safeguard its sovereignty and territorial integrity,” said foreign ministry spokesperson Mao Ning.

McCarthy, the top Republican in Congress earlier vowed to follow Democrat Nancy Pelosi, whom he succeeded as Speaker, by travelling to Taiwan.

The meeting in his home state of California had been viewed as a middle ground that would avoid inflaming tensions with China.

China’s charge d’affaires of its embassy to the US told reporters last week Washington risked “serious confrontation” no matter whether US leaders visited Taiwan or the reverse.

“The US keeps saying that transit is not a visit and that there are precedents, but we should not use past mistakes as excuses for repeating them today,” Xu Xueyuan said.

China claims Taiwan as part of its territory to be retaken one day, and under its “One China” principle, no country may maintain official ties with both Beijing and Taipei.

In response to Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan last August, China launched missiles, deployed warships across the median line of the Taiwan Strait and carried out military drills.

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