China on Wednesday warned that it would respond if Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen met with House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) while she visits the US as part of a trip to Central America.
Tsai departed for her trip to Guatemala and Belize, two countries that maintain formal diplomatic relations with Taipei. On the way there, Tsai will spend two days in New York, and on the way back, she will stop in Los Angeles on April 4 and 5, where she’s expected to meet with McCarthy.
Beijing views any official contact between Taiwan’s president and high-level US government officials as an affront to the one-China policy. In August 2022, China launched its largest-ever military exercises around Taiwan in response to then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) visiting the island.
Zhu Fenglian, a spokeswoman for China’s Taiwan Affairs Office, said if Tsai “has contact with 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.”
“We firmly oppose this and will definitely take measures to resolutely fight back,” Zhu added. Tsai has traveled to the US as president several times before, most recently in 2019. But tensions between the US and China over Taiwan have soared since then, and Beijing has been responding more harshly to official contacts between Washington and Taipei.
The White House said Wednesday that China shouldn’t take any action in response to Tsai’s trip, insisting it’s not an official visit. “It is Taiwan’s decision to make these transits based on their own travel, transits are not visits, they are private, and they are unofficial,” said White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby.
Later in the day, Xu Xueyuan, chargé d’affaires at China’s embassy in Washington, rejected the White House’s position and warned a Tsai-McCarthy meeting could lead to a confrontation between the US and China. Xu said the US “should not use past mistakes as excuses for repeating them today.”
“[Whether] it is Taiwan leaders coming to the United States or the US leaders visiting Taiwan, it could lead to another serious, serious, serious, I repeat, confrontation in the China-US relationship,” Xu added.