China threatens retaliation if Tsai and McCarthy meet

BEIJING (AP) — China has threatened “firm countermeasures” over a scheduled meeting between Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen and United States House Speaker Kevin McCarthy during an upcoming visit by the leader of the island’s self-governing democracy to Los Angeles.

Diplomatic pressure on Taiwan has increased recently, while Beijing has been poaching its dwindling number of diplomatic allies to fly military fighter planes to the island almost daily. earlier this month, Honduras established diplomatic relations with ChinaAs a result, only 13 countries now recognize Taiwan as a sovereign state.

Tsai is scheduled to transit New York on March 30 before heading to Guatemala and Belize. On April 5, she is expected to stop in Los Angeles on her way back to Taiwan, at which time the meeting with McCarthy is tentatively scheduled.

Spokeswoman for the Cabinet’s Office of Taiwan Affairs Zhu Fenglian denounced Tsai’s stopover on her way to visit diplomatic allies in Central America at a news conference on Wednesday and demanded that no US officials meet with her.

“We are resolutely opposed to this and will take resolute countermeasures,” said Zhu. The US should “refrain from arranging transit visits from Tsai Ing-wen and even contact American officials, and take concrete measures to fulfill its solemn commitment not to support Taiwan independence,” she said.

Transit visits by the United States during the Taiwanese president’s broader international trips have been routine over the years, senior US officials in Washington and Beijing have underscored to their Chinese counterparts.

On such unofficial visits in recent years, Tsai has met with members of Congress and the Taiwanese diaspora, and was greeted by the chair of the American Institute in Taiwan, the US government-run nonprofit organization that has unofficial ties with Taiwan.

Tsai transited the United States six times between 2016 and 2019 before slowing international travel with the coronavirus pandemic. In response to these visits, China rhetorically proposed against the US and Taiwan.

However, the planned meeting with McCarthy has sparked fears of a heavy-handed Chinese response amid heightened friction between Beijing and Washington over US support for Taiwan, trade and human rights issues.

after a Visit of then Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, to Taiwan In 2022, Beijing launched missiles over the area, deployed warships across the Taiwan Strait midline, and conducted military exercises in a simulated blockade of the island. Beijing also suspended climate talks with the US and restricted military-to-military communications with the Pentagon.

McCarthy, R-Calif., has said he would meet with Tsai when she is in the US and has not ruled out the possibility of traveling to Taiwan as a show of support.

Beijing sees official American contact with Taiwan as encouragement to make the island’s decades-old de facto independence permanent, a move US leaders say they do not support. Pelosi, D-Calif., was the senior American elected official to visit the island since then-Speaker Newt Gingrich in 1997. As part of the “One China” policy, the US recognizes Beijing’s view that it has sovereignty over Taiwan, but considers Taiwan’s status to be unresolved. Taipei is an important partner for Washington in the Indo-Pacific.

US officials are increasingly concerned that China is trying to catch up on its lengthy statement The aim is to bring Taiwan under his control by force if necessary. The sides split in 1949 amid civil war, and Beijing sees US politicians conspiring with Tsai’s pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party to make the split permanent and slow China’s rise as a world power.

The Taiwan Relations Act of 1979, which governs US relations with the island, does not require Washington to intervene militarily if China invades, but makes it American policy to ensure Taiwan has the resources to defend itself and to prevent a unilateral status change by Beijing.

Tensions rose earlier this year when President Joe Biden ordered to shoot down a Chinese spy balloon after crossing the continental United States. The Biden administration also said US intelligence findings show China is weighing Arms deliveries to Russia for its ongoing war in Ukraine, but still has no evidence that Beijing has done so.

However, China has provided Russia with an economic lifeline and political support President Vladimir Putin and Chinese leader Xi Jinping met in Moscow earlier this month. This was the first face-to-face meeting between the allies since Russia began its invasion of Ukraine more than a year ago.

The Biden administration has postponed a planned visit by Secretary of State Antony Blinken to Beijing in the wake of the balloon controversy, but has signaled it would like to get such a visit back on track.

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