Taiwan president meets US House speaker McCarthy amid China tensions | Taiwan

Taiwan’s president Tsai Ing-wen has praised the “strong and unique partnership” between the island and the United States, as she met the US House speaker Kevin McCarthy for a meeting that prompted an angry reaction from the Chinese government.

The comments came after a meeting on Wednesday between the two at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California.

McCarthy, standing in front of a retired Air Force One at the library north of Los Angeles, told Tsai a shared belief in democracy and freedom formed “the bedrock” of an enduring relationship.

“The friendship between the people of Taiwan and America is a matter of profound importance to the free world, and it is critical to maintain economic freedom peace and regional stability,” he said.

“We will honour our obligations and reiterate our commitment to our shared values behind which all Americans are united.”

It is the second time Tsai has met the holder of the high-ranking office in less than a year, having welcomed McCarthy’s predecessor, Nancy Pelosi, to Taiwan in August. That visit, which took place on what China considers to be sovereign soil, provoked a stronger reaction from Beijing, including days of live-fire military exercises around Taiwan.

This time Tsai chose to meet the speaker in California in an attempt to reduce the impact. Nonetheless, Beijing called the meeting a “provocation” and threatened retaliation.

Those threats did not prevent Tsai and McCarthy from exchanging warm words. McCarthy said their countries’ “bond … is stronger now than at any time or point in my lifetime” and that Tsai was the “great champion” of that relationship.

Wednesday’s meeting was attended by more than a dozen Democratic and Republican lawmakers, highlighting the bipartisan consensus in Congress when it comes to supporting Taiwan.

Tsai thanked them for their “unwavering support” which she said “reassures the people of Taiwan that we are not isolated and we are not alone”.

McCarthy declined to support any change in the US’s policy on China and Taiwan. Since 1979, the US has officially recognised the People’s Republic of China as the sole government of the “one China” that is mainland China and Taiwan. But the US also sells arms to Taiwan to deter any military advances from Beijing, something that McCarthy said should continue.

He drew an explicit comparison between Hong Kong and Taiwan, saying that when China “reneged” on its promise to allow Hong Kong autonomy for 50 years after the handover to Chinese rule, “that harmed [Beijing’s reputation] around the world”.

Michael Swaine, a senior research fellow at the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft, a thinktank, warned that the meeting could accelerate the downward spiral of US-China relations. He warned that it could trigger a “show of resolve” from Beijing, which could itself “drive Washington to move even closer to Taiwan in order to demonstrate its own resolve”.

On Wednesday, Taiwan’s defence ministry said it had detected aircraft carriers near the main island’s south-east waters. But so far there have not been military actions on the scale of the drills in August.

( Information from politico.com was used in this report. Also if you have any problem of this article or if you need to remove this articles, please email here and we will delete this immediately. [email protected] )

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