McCarthy meets with Taiwanese president in California over objections from China
▶ Watch Video: House Speaker Kevin McCarthy and Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen to meet in California
Washington — House Speaker Kevin McCarthy is hosting a meeting with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-Wen and a bipartisan group of lawmakers in California on Wednesday in a high-stakes show of support that has already drawn the condemnation of China.
The meeting comes amid an increasingly fraught relationship between the U.S. and China over the status of Taiwan and other issues. China opposes the meeting and previously vowed “resolute countermeasures” should it take place. The Chinese military sailed an aircraft carrier off the coast of Taiwan for military exercises on Wednesday, the Taiwanese Defense Ministry said.
Several Democratic and Republican lawmakers were expected to join the meeting with Tsai at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, including GOP Rep. Mike Gallagher, chairman of the House select committee on competition with the Chinese Communist Party. McCarthy and Tsai are expected to deliver statements after the meeting.
“The friendship between America and the people of Taiwan has never been stronger,” McCarthy, who is second in line for the presidency, tweeted to welcome Tsai.
China has considered Taiwan a breakaway province since 1949, when communists took over the Chinese mainland and their opponents fled to Taiwan, establishing a government in exile. The U.S. recognized the government in Taipei as the legitimate rulers of China until 1978, when Washington formally shifted recognition to Beijing and cut formal diplomatic ties with Taiwan.
Since then, the U.S. has maintained a policy of “strategic ambiguity” over the status of Taiwan, declining to formally commit to intervening militarily if China invaded while providing the government in Taiwan with billions of dollars in military aid. President Biden raised eyebrows last year when he told “60 Minutes” the U.S. would send troops to help defend Taiwan “if in fact there was an unprecedented attack” by China, while stressing that the island “makes their own judgments about their independence.” The White House denied the statement represented a change in U.S. policy.
Tsai has made it clear Taiwan is an independent entity, and the visit with McCarthy comes at the end of a high-profile diplomatic trip to the U.S. to bolster support for the island.
McCarthy’s predecessor, Nancy Pelosi, visited Taiwan last year, a move that prompted an angry reaction from Beijing. Soon after, China’s People’s Liberation Army staged military exercises, and, for the first time, fired ballistic missiles over Taiwan.
U.S.-China tensions have also increased as China declines to rule out military assistance to Russia, and after the Chinese spy balloon incident.
Haley Ott contributed to this report.