HomeHow ToMcCarthy meets with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-Wen in California over objections from China
McCarthy meets with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-Wen in California over objections from China
April 5, 2023
Simi Valley, California — House Speaker Kevin McCarthy hosted 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 drew condemnation from China before it even began.
The meeting came amid an increasingly fraught relationship between the U.S. and China over the status of Taiwan, China’s ties to Russia and other national security issues. China opposed the meeting and vowed “resolute countermeasures” if it took place. The Taiwanese Defense Ministry said the Chinese military sailed an aircraft carrier off the coast of Taiwan for military exercises on Wednesday.
Several Democratic and Republican lawmakers joined 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.
“I believe our bond is stronger now than at any time or point in my life,” McCarthy said after the meeting, calling Tsai “a great champion” of the bond between the U.S. and Taiwan while standing in front of the plane used by Reagan as Air Force One.
Tsai thanked McCarthy and the group of bipartisan congressional delegation for meeting with her, saying their “presence and unwavering support reassure the people of Taiwan that we are not isolated, and we are not alone.” She said she reiterated Taiwan’s commitment to “defending the peaceful status quo, where the people of Taiwan may continue to thrive in a free and open society.”
China has considered Taiwan a breakaway province since 1949, when communists took over the Chinese mainland and their opponents fled to Taiwan, establishing a democratic 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. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Wednesday in Brussels that Beijing should not use Tsai’s visit “as an excuse to take any actions to ratchet up tensions, to further push at changing the status quo,” noting that trips by Taiwanese leaders to the U.S. are “nothing new.”
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.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken warned Beijing against using Tsai’s visit “as an excuse to take any actions to ratchet up tensions, to further push at changing the status quo.”