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Taiwan's Tsai set to meet US House Speaker in LA

Taiwanese leader and McCarthy sidestep threats from Beijing, which sent aircraft carriers into the Pacific.

Alex Willemyns for RFA

April 5, 2023

Security guards separate the supporters of Taiwan, as they confront protesters opposed to Taiwanese independence outside a hotel where Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen is expected to arrive in Los Angeles, Tuesday, April 4, 2023.

U.S. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy and Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen are set to meet at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library just outside of Los Angeles on Wednesday, ignoring threats of “countermeasures” from Beijing amid its ongoing protests over Tsai’s visit to America.

After weeks of warnings about such a meeting, China’s navy sent an aircraft carrier group through the Bashi Channel – between Taiwan and the Philippines – and into the Pacific early Wednesday, according to Taiwan’s defense ministry, which called the move irresponsible.

Taiwan later announced it will hold naval drills next week.

McCarthy’s office confirmed to Radio Free Asia on Tuesday that the meeting with Tsai would go ahead and said 17 other lawmakers from both the Republican and Democratic parties would also attend.

The list includes Rep. Mike Gallagher, a Republican from Wisconsin and chairman of the Select Committee on China, Rep. Pete Aguilar of Illinois, the Democratic caucus chair, and Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi of Illinois, the ranking Democrat on the Select Committee on China.

From left to right, a U.S., Taiwan, and California flag fly outside the Westin Hotel, where Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen is staying, in Los Angeles on Tuesday, April 4, 2023. (Associated Press)

Competing protests are expected outside the Reagan library, reprising last week’s shouting matches in New York between supporters of Tsai and pro-Beijing groups who argue she should not be in America.

Tsai met with a separate bipartisan congressional delegation led by House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, a Democrat from New York, during her visit to New York last week, according to reports.

‘Blatant provocation’

China has slammed Tsai’s “transit” through the United States this week and last, labeling the trip a campaign for Taiwan’s independence. Beijing regards the self-governing island as a renegade province and has vowed to “reunite” it with the mainland using force if necessary.

A Chinese diplomat has warned of a “serious, serious, serious confrontation in the U.S.-China relationship” if the meeting happens, but Biden administration officials say it’s McCarthy’s prerogative.

Washington-based PunchBowl News on Tuesday also obtained an email sent from Li Xiang, the Chinese Embassy in Washington's liaison to Congress, to McCarthy warning of consequences over the meeting.

"I have to point out 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 to the unwanted situation,” Li wrote. "Former Speaker [Nancy] Pelosi's visit to Taiwan last year triggered a serious crisis in the China-U.S. relationship, and the lessons should be learned.”

McCarthy said last month he may repeat Pelosi’s trip to Taiwan this year, telling a reporter “China can’t tell me where and when I can go.”

Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin – a rising star in the Republican Party and a possible 2024 presidential contender – on Tuesday also announced that he plans to travel to Taiwan later this month.

Edited by Malcolm Foster.


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