By Dave DeCamp / Antiwar.com
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) met with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen in California on Wednesday, marking the highest level meeting between US and Taiwanese officials since the previous House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, visited Taipei in August 2022.
The meeting is historic and risks provoking a major Chinese response as it makes McCarthy the highest-level US official to host a Taiwanese leader on US soil since Washington severed diplomatic relations with Taipei in 1979 to open up with Beijing.
China has warned strongly against the meeting and has stepped up patrols and other military exercises around the Taiwan Strait. At this point, it’s not clear how far China’s military response will go. When Pelosi made the trip to Taiwan, Beijing launched its largest-ever military exercises around Taiwan, which included a simulated blockade and the firing of missiles over the island.
According to The South China Morning Post, the McCarthy-Tsai meeting at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley was attended by a bipartisan group of 15 other members of Congress. Ahead of the meeting, China’s embassy in the US was contacting US lawmakers to express its “deep concern and firm opposition” to the gathering.
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Li Xiang, a representative from the Chinese embassy, said in an email that China will not “sit idly by in the face of a blatant provocation and will most likely take necessary and resolute actions in response.”
Tsai stopped in California on her way back from a visit to Central America, and the White House has downplayed her visit since Taiwanese leaders have made similar trips in the past. But the talks with McCarthy is only the third time since 1979 that a Taiwanese president met with a US House speaker.
Dave DeCamp is the news editor of Antiwar.com, follow him on Twitter @decampdave.