China slams plan for Taiwan president to meet US House Speaker

China on Tuesday reacted angrily to an announcement that U.S. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy will meet with Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen in California, saying the meeting will “further damage” China-U.S. relations.

On Monday, despite warnings from Beijing, McCarthy’s office announced that the Speaker will “host a bipartisan meeting with the President of Taiwan at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library” in Simi Valley on Wednesday.

It will be the first ever meeting between a Taiwan president and a U.S. House Speaker in the United States.

Tsai is currently in Belize on an official visit to Taiwan’s two remaining allies in Central America that also took her to Guatemala. The third ally in the region – Honduras – has just broken ties with Taipei, switching allegiance to Beijing. 

Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen attends a banquet as she arrives in Belize, in this handout released on April 3, 2023.  Credit: Taiwan Presidential Office/Handout via Reuters

The Taiwanese president will make a transit in Los Angeles on her way back to Taipei. A similar stopover was made in New York last week.

The Chinese Consulate in Los Angeles said in a statement that the Tsai-McCarthy meeting will “greatly hurt the national feelings” of the Chinese people and is “not conducive to regional peace, security nor stability,” according to news reports.

China considers Taiwan one of its provinces and has repeatedly warned against what Beijing sees as a “separatist campaign” by the current Taiwan government, assisted by “external forces.”

When asked about the meeting that China labeled a “provocation” and whether it would retaliate with military action, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mao Ning said Beijing “will take resolute measures to safeguard its sovereignty and territorial integrity.”

She did not elaborate on the measures.

‘Absurd and unreasonable’

Taiwan’s Defense Ministry on Tuesday morning said that over the previous 24 hours, 20 Chinese aircraft and three warships were detected in areas around the island.

Nine of the aircraft crossed the median line in the Taiwan Strait which serves as the de facto boundary between Taiwan and China’s mainland.  

The Taiwanese Foreign Ministry hit back on Tuesday, saying that Taiwan has never been part of nor ruled by China. This is “an objective fact that is clearly recognized internationally,” it said.

The ministry added that China’s reaction to Tsai Ing-wen’s trip has “become increasingly absurd and unreasonable.”

Taiwan is a sovereign and independent country, it said, and “has the right to independently choose to communicate and develop relations with other countries in the world.”

The meeting between Taiwan’s president and the Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives was reportedly relocated from Taiwan to California due to concerns about China’s retaliation.

When then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited Taiwan in August last year, China staged a week-long military exercise around the island.

The change of venue is seen by some analysts as a tension-reducing measure.

Meanwhile, former Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou is in China on a visit criticized by the island’s ruling Democratic Progressive Party.

Ma, who is a member of the opposition Kuomintang party, met with Chinese officials and called on both sides “to do everything possible to avoid war,” Chinese media reported.

Edited by Mike Firn.



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