US House Speaker Kevin McCarthy announced on Tuesday that he will meet Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen in California, while he left open the possibility of traveling to the autonomous island.
According to a senior Taiwanese official who was not named, Tsai’s administration informed McCarthy’s staff that a high-profile American visit would result in a Chinese threat. This information was first published by the Financial Times earlier on Tuesday.
The FT also stated that the meeting would take place in California rather than Taiwan as originally planned by the speaker.
Despite telling reporters in Washington that the meeting did not prevent a travel to Taiwan, McCarthy confirmed that he will visit Tsai in the US.
McCarthy was cited as adding, “That has nothing to do with my travel, whether I would go to Taiwan.”
China cannot direct where or when I may travel.
In response to Beijing’s criticism of McCarthy’s predecessor Nancy Pelosi’s trip in August, China conducted extensive military exercises all around the island.
Taiwan is constantly in danger of being invaded by China, which sees the island’s democratic government as a portion of its territory that should one day be seized—by force, if necessary.
Although the US maintains a “One China” policy, supporting Beijing diplomatically and opposing any unilateral changes to the status quo from either side, it is one of Taiwan’s closest allies and largest military suppliers.
The island may be the target of a substantial rise in Chinese defense spending announced over the weekend, according to Taiwan’s defense minister on Monday.A legitimate justification to send troops, such as high-level visits from other nations to Taiwan or too frequent interactions between our military and other nations, is what I believe they are waiting for, according to Chiu Kuo-cheng.
When contacted by AFP on Wednesday, Tsai’s office declined to confirm whether she would be visiting the US, stating that the president’s schedule was still being determined.
She last visited the country in 2019, taking a little break while traveling to diplomatic friends in the Caribbean.