Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy will meet with Taiwan’s president in California next month — rather than a sit-down in Taipei — so as not to provoke China amid high tensions between Beijing and Washington.
President Tsai Ing-wen and McCarthy are expected to meet in Simi Valley, California, in April, Reuters reported Monday. Taiwan’s first female president has been invited to speak at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library on a layover during a planned visit to Central America.
McCarthy’s office did not respond to DailyMail.com’s request for comment.
The meeting is said to have come as US-China relations have deteriorated in the wake of the spy balloon China has sent over the US reporting that Xi Jinping is considering deadly aid to Russia for its war in Ukraine.
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-California (left) will meet Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen (right) next month in California instead of traveling to Taiwan
There were also concerns that Beijing could bolster its military response if McCarthy traveled to the island. In the past week, China has sent fighter jets and warships to Taiwan and the US has responded by supplying Tsai’s government with ammunition for its fighter jets.
The White House declined to comment, saying no visit to the US has been announced by Tsai’s administration.
“I do not believe that Taiwan has announced a trip for the President of Taiwan,” White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said at Monday’s news conference.
“The presidents of Taiwan have traveled to the United States in the past. So I would direct you to Taiwan for something specific on that. And I would certainly refer you to the Speaker’s office, to any possible meeting he has with the president,” she said.
McCarthy, a Republican from California, has said several times that he wanted to travel to Taiwan, as Nancy Pelosi did when she was a speaker.
But he agreed to meet Tsai in the US because of Taiwanese security concerns. Financial times reported.
A senior Taiwanese official told the outlet that Tsai’s government had provided McCarthy’s team with “some intelligence about what the Chinese Communist Party has been up to lately and the type of threats they pose.”
The official added that China was “not in a good situation.”
The Chinese Communist Party claims Taiwan, a democratically governed island of 24 million people, as part of its sovereign territory, despite never controlling it.
If McCarthy and Tsai meet in California, that doesn’t necessarily mean the speaker won’t travel to Taiwan, but it does reduce the likelihood.
McCarthy declined to answer in an interview with CNBC on Monday whether he would visit Taiwan and said he would announce any travel plans as soon as he had them.
China recently sent 25 fighter jets and three warships to Taiwan and the US responded by giving the island missiles for its F-16s
Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen has been invited to give a speech at Ronald Reagan’s Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California (above) and McCarthy could meet her there
Tsai has visited the United States in the past. It is common for Taiwanese officials to make stopovers in the US as part of other trips, though Washington is usually careful about who it sends to meet them to avoid angering China.
The US, like many other countries, has no formal diplomatic ties with Taiwan, but is required by US law to provide the country with the means to defend itself.
Washington has long pursued a policy of “strategic ambiguity,” meaning it did not clarify whether it would respond militarily to an attack on Taiwan.
However, President Joe Biden has said four times in the past four years that the US would intervene if China launched an unprovoked attack on the island.
Recently, the Biden administration approved a potential arms sale estimated at $619 million to Taiwan, including hundreds of missiles for F-16 fighter jets, after China sent 25 fighter jets and three warships to the island.
But the Chinese vehicles failed to cross the sensitive centerline of the Taiwan Strait, which previously served as an unofficial barrier between the two sides.
No shots were fired and the Chinese plane flew into Taiwan’s ADIZ, not its territorial airspace.
The ADIZ is a wider area that monitors and patrols Taiwan, acting to give it more time to respond to any threats.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi arrives in her car at her hotel in Taipei, where she was cheered by the locals, during her trip to Taiwan in August 2022
Relations between Beijing and Washington are at an all-time low due to China’s actions towards Taiwan, aggressive trade policies and actions in the South China Sea.
Pelosi, a Democrat, visited Taiwan and met with Tsai last year, despite warnings from China, which launched military exercises around the island in response.
Beijing was furious. Chinese officials called the visit a “violation of the one China principle.”
She was the highest-ranking U.S. official to visit the island in 25 years.
The Biden administration tried to contain the situation by saying repeatedly that Pelosi had made an independent decision to go to Taiwan.
But China staged war games around the island, simulating a blockade and firing missiles over it into the Pacific.
In addition to ordering new hardware from the US, Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen has pushed for a revitalization of the domestic defense industry, including the production of conventionally powered submarines.