McCarthy Welcomes Taiwan’s President Amid Tensions With China

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy welcomed Taiwan’s President in California on Wednesday, in hopes to tighten international relations.

President Ing-wen’s Visit to America

On Wednesday, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy held a historic meeting with Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen on U.S. soil, reflecting the increasing support of U.S. lawmakers for her self-governed island amidst rising tensions with China.

McCarthy briefly shook hands with Tsai as her SUV arrived at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library.

Afterwards McCarthy and Tsai walked inside for hours of meetings with Democratic and Republican members of Congress behind closed doors, with cameras broadcasting the display of the high-level partnership to China and the world.

Neither McCarthy nor Tsai commented as they were met by small groups of demonstrators who waved signs in support of Taiwan or in favor of China’s claim to the island.

China Flexing it’s Muscles

Tsai’s weeklong journey was aimed at strengthening ties with the United States and Central America, with her meeting with House Speaker Kevin McCarthy being the most intimate part of the trip.

China considers any exchange or engagement between officials from the United States and Taiwan as a direct challenge to its claim over Taiwan as a part of its own territory.

In the past, China responded to such meetings by flexing its military muscle and reducing communication with the U.S.

In response to a visit by then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to Taiwan in August last year, China conducted its largest live-fire drills in decades, even firing a missile over the island.

The Biden administration stated that Tsai’s meeting with McCarthy is not considered new or provocative and is one of several such visits. However, angry Chinese officials have pledged a sharp, yet unspecified response to the meeting.

“There’s no reason for the Chinese to overreact in any way,” National Security Council spokesman John Kirby told reporters Wednesday. “We’ll watch this as closely as we can.”

Taiwan Wants to Defend Their Country

China’s “deliberate action has jeopardized regional stability and caused tension in Taiwan Strait,” Taiwan’s defense ministry said. “However, external pressures will not hinder our determination to move toward the world & defend our country.”

The Taiwan president’s visit to America comes as China, the U.S. and its allies are strengthening their military positions and readiness for any confrontation between the two sides, with Taiwan and its claim to sovereignty a main flashpoint. 

The United States broke official ties with Taiwan in 1979 while formally establishing diplomatic relations with the Beijing government.

While the U.S. acknowledges the “one-China” policy in which Beijing lays claim to Taiwan, it does not endorse China’s claim to the island and remains Taiwan’s key provider of military and defense assistance.

The meeting between House Speaker Kevin McCarthy and Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen marks the first known encounter between a House speaker and a Taiwanese president on American soil since the US ended formal diplomatic ties with Taiwan.

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