On April 5, United States House Speaker Kevin McCarthy will have a highly symbolic meeting in California with the president of Taiwan. This discussion has already provoked China’s ire and prompted dire warnings from Beijing.
After a two-nation journey to Latin America to see Taiwan’s few surviving formal friends, President Tsai Ing-wen will meet with the group outside of Los Angeles during what is officially a stopover.
After Ms. Tsai’s Central American visit, a pro-China protest with the slogan “One China” also gathered close when she arrived Tuesday evening.
In response to Taipei’s diplomatic contacts with foreign nations, Beijing asserts Taiwan as its own territory and objects. Last week, it informed Mr. McCarthy, a Republican and the second in line to the presidency of the United States, that he was “playing with fire” by seeing Ms. Tsai.
Taiwan has had decades of self-government and is a thriving democracy. It possesses a self-sufficient military, an independent judiciary, and all the other amenities of a modern state. Yet, very few nations recognise it as a sovereign state.
Under Ms. Tsai’s leadership, Taipei has gained backing from both parties in the US Congress and has gotten closer to Washington.
The most senior American politician to visit the island in more than two decades, Nancy Pelosi, who was Mr. McCarthy’s predecessor, incited outrage in Beijing last year. Instead of going himself as initially intended, Mr. McCarthy decided to meet Tsai at the “Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California.” While more than a dozen other elected officials were expected to participate, his staff claimed that the discussion would be “bipartisan.”
It was believed that choosing to hold the meeting in the US was a compromise that would demonstrate support for Taiwan while preventing an escalation of hostilities with China.
Ms. Tsai’s journey to southern California follows travels to Guatemala and Belize, as well as a quick stop in New York last week, where she was welcomed by Taiwanese expats waving flags.
China has recently been quite vocal about the visit, and “the managing director of the Indo-Pacific Programme at the German Marshall Fund,” Bonnie Glaser, suggested that Beijing may feel pressured to keep up the rhetoric.
The conference in California, according to the Chinese consulate in Los Angeles, will “immensely offend the national sensibilities of 1.4 billion Chinese people” and jeopardise “the political foundation of China-U.S. relations.”