Sensitive meeting in US: Tsai Ing-wen speaks with Speaker House of Representatives

In California, the president of Taiwan met with the speaker of the US House of Representatives. The visit is geopolitically very sensitive: China had threatened countermeasures in advance.

It has been more than forty years since a Taiwanese head of state spoke to such a high-ranking politician on US soil. Republican Kevin McCarthy received Tsai Ing-wen at the Ronald Reagan Library in California’s Simi Valley, which was established in memory of the 80s president.

McCarthy said he is optimistic that Taiwan and the U.S. can continue to promote “freedom, democracy, peace and stability” together. He is the highest ranking U.S. leader after President Biden and Vice President Harris.

The Chinese government considers the visit a provocation. Beijing does not recognize Taiwan’s sovereignty and considers the island with a population of over 23 million to be a province that needs to be “reunited with the motherland”.

The previous high-level contact between Taiwan and the U.S. led to an unprecedented large Chinese military exercise around the island. In August 2022, Chinese warships sailed past Taiwan for several days in a row after a visit to Taipei by then House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Chinese rockets were also fired over the island for the first time. But it was only a show of force; confrontations continued.

Analysts expect that the meeting between Tsai and McCarthy will lead to a less violent reaction from China than Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan last year. Beijing has not said in advance what repercussions Washington and Taipei can expect. In a first reaction, the Chinese Foreign Ministry condemned the meeting. The ministry called it an” act of conspiracy “and said it would take” resolute ” measures to defend China’s sovereignty.

The Taiwanese president arrived in New York last week. She has subsequently traveled to Belize and Guatemala, two of only thirteen countries that still have diplomatic relations with Taiwan. Central American Honduras, too, recently severed those ties.

The United States is Taiwan’s main military and political ally. However, Washington does not officially recognize the island as independent. America balances between two points of view: on the one hand, Beijing’s so-called One-China policy is recognized, but at the same time, the US thus keeps a hand over Taiwan.

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