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China warns US House leader against meeting Taiwan president

April 4, 2023

Taiwan's President Tsai is set to meet US House Speaker Kevin McCarthy. Beijing said that the Republican leader should avoid repeating "disastrous" past mistakes.

Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen looks to the left of the camera.
Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen will be hosted by US House Speaker Kevin McCarthyImage: Sam Yeh/AFP/Getty Images

Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen will be hosted by US House Speaker Kevin McCarthy during a stopover in the United States, her office confirmed on Tuesday.

China immediately opposed the meeting and said that it would "further damage the China-US relations." 

Beijing's consulate in Los Angeles reiterated in a statement that the meeting "is not conducive to regional peace, security or stability."

China-US-Taiwan: A war of words

Tsai intends to make a sensitive stopover in the US during her return from a tour of Central America, where she met with leaders of Guatemala and Belize, reported Taiwan's state-run Central News Agency. 

Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen looks into the camera during her visit to Guatemala.
Tsai intends to stop over in the US during her return from Central America.Image: Moises Castillo/AP/picture alliance

Xavier Chang, Tsai's spokesperson, said that it remained uncertain if the president would give a speech while in the US, but preparations for the visit were ongoing. 

Chang added that it was Taiwan's right to exchange with other democracies and "China is not in a position to meddle in" its decisions.

Washington responded by saying that such stopovers are common practice, and that China should not overreact. 

However, China's consulate in the US called the meeting "a political show" and said that it was "false" to term Tsai's visit a transit. 

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Mao Ning said Beijing was strongly opposed to the US allowing Tsai to transit through its territory.

"China will closely monitor the situation and firmly defend national sovereignty and territorial integrity," Mao told a regular briefing.

China: US should not repeat 'disastrous' past mistakes

Taiwan has had an independent government since 1949, but China considers the island part of its territory. 

During a speech delivered by Tsai in Belize on Monday, she stressed that the world faces "expansionist threats from authoritarian regimes."

"The people of Taiwan face constant threats and pressure from the neighbor on the other side of Taiwan Strait," she said.

The US does not have formal diplomatic ties with Taiwan, but it is Taipei's strongest unofficial ally.

Last August, after the then-US Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited Taipei, China staged war games around the island. 

In the statement released by the consulate, Beijing warned McCarthy that he is repeating "disastrous past mistakes."

The meeting, Beijing said, "will only strengthen the Chinese people's strong will and determination to share a common enemy and support national unity."

Taiwan's Foreign Ministry said that China's recent criticism of Tsai's trip "has become increasingly absurd." 

"Even if the authoritarian government continues with its expansion and intensifies coercion, Taiwan will not back down," the ministry said in a statement. 

ns/es (dpa, AFP, Reuters)