House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) will host Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen in California on Wednesday, a meeting that risks provoking major Chinese military exercises around Taiwan.
The Tsai-McCarthy meeting has been long-anticipated but wasn’t officially confirmed until McCarthy released the details on Monday. His office said he will host a bipartisan meeting with Tsai at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in California.
China views high-level government contact between the US and Taiwan as an affront to the one-China policy. When then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) met with Tsai in Taipei in August 2022, Beijing launched its largest-ever military exercises around Taiwan.
Taiwanese officials convinced McCarthy to meet Tsai in California rather than make the trip to Taiwan over fears of a Chinese escalation, but Beijing has signaled it might still respond to the meeting in the US in a big way.
The Biden administration has said China should not overreact because there is a precedent for Taiwanese leaders stopping in the US. But by hosting Tsai, McCarthy will become the highest-level US official to ever meet with a Taiwanese president on US soil. Tsai stopped in New York on the way to Belize and Guatemala and will meet McCarthy in California on her way back to Taiwan.
The South China Morning Post reported Monday that China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) sent three warships to the East China Sea to conduct live-fire drills. Chinese analysts told Post that because the PLA command responsible for the Taiwan Strait directed the drills, it was meant as a response to Tsai’s travel through the US. They said the exercises indicated China will take “strong” countermeasures when Tsai meets with McCarthy.