McCarthy, Taiwan's President Meet Despite China's Warning

On US soil, two leaders describe nations' ties as strong, unwavering
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Apr 5, 2023 7:20 PM CDT
China Objects as US Hosts Taiwan's President for Talks
Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen third from left, attends a bipartisan leadership meeting Wednesday with House Speaker Kevin McCarthy at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California.   (AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu)

Risking China's wrath, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy hosted Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen on Wednesday as a "great friend of America" in a fraught show of US support at a rare high-level, bipartisan meeting on American soil. In their public remarks, Tsai and McCarthy steered clear of calls from hard-liners in the US for a more confrontational stance toward China in defense of self-ruled Taiwan, the AP reports. Instead, the two leaders stood side by side in a show of unity at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in California, acknowledging China's threats against the island government but speaking only of maintaining longstanding US policy.

"America's support for the people of Taiwan will remain resolute, unwavering, and bipartisan," McCarthy said at a press conference later. The Republican speaker evoked Reagan's peace-through-strength philosophy on foreign relations and emphasized that "this is a bipartisan meeting of members of Congress." He said US-Taiwan ties are stronger than at any other point in his life. Tsai told reporters that the "unwavering support reassures the people of Taiwan that we are not isolated." Still, the formal trappings of the meeting, and the senior rank of some of the elected officials in the congressional delegation, threatened to run afoul of Chinas position that any interaction between US and Taiwanese officials is a challenge to China's claim of sovereignty over the island.

The Chinese Embassy in Washington had urged lawmakers in writing not to meet Tsai, per NPR. China has reacted to past trips by Taiwanese presidents through the US, and to past trips to Taiwan by senior American officials, with shows of military force. After then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to Taiwan last August, China responded with its largest live-fire drills in decades, including sending a missile over the island. After the meeting Wednesday, China condemned Tsai's visit in a release from the national Xinhua News Agency. The government will take "resolute and forceful measures to defend national sovereignty and territorial integrity," the statement said.

(More Taiwan stories.)

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