In California, the President of Taiwan met with the Speaker of the US House of Representatives. The visit is very sensitive geopolitically: China had previously threatened countermeasures.
It has been more than forty years since a Taiwanese head of state spoke to a high-ranking politician like this on American soil. Republican Kevin McCarthy greeted Tsai Ing-wen at the Ronald Reagan Library in California’s Simi Valley, which was founded in memory of the 1980s president.
McCarthy said he was optimistic that Taiwan and the United States can continue to promote “freedom, democracy, peace and stability” together. He is the second highest ranking leader of the United States after President Biden and Vice President Harris.
The Chinese government regards the visit as a provocation. Beijing does not recognize Taiwan’s sovereignty and regards the island of more than 23 million people as a province that must be “reunited with the motherland”.
Great military exercise
Previous high-level contact between Taiwan and the United States led to an unprecedented Chinese military maneuver around the island. In August 2022, Chinese warships sailed through Taiwan for several days in a row after then-Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi visited Taipei. Chinese missiles were also fired over the island for the first time. But it was just a show of force. The confrontations failed.
Analysts expect the Tsai-McCarthy meeting to prompt a less severe reaction from China than Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan last year. Beijing did not say in advance what repercussions Washington and Taipei could expect.
The main ally
The Taiwanese president arrived in New York last week. She then traveled to Belize and Guatemala, two of only 13 countries that still have diplomatic relations with Taiwan. Honduras, also from Central America, recently severed those ties.
The United States is Taiwan’s main military and political ally. However, even Washington does not officially recognize the island as an independent country. America balances two points of view: on the one hand, Beijing’s so-called one-China policy is recognized, but at the same time, the United States keeps Taiwan above its head.
“Infuriatingly humble social media buff. Twitter advocate. Writer. Internet nerd.”