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    House Speaker Kevin McCarthy Scheduled to Meet with Taiwanese President Tsai in California

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    On April 4, 2023, it was reported that China had warned Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen against meeting Republican House Speaker Kevin McCarthy. Tsai had plans to stop over in the United States on her return from Central America, where she had met the leaders of Guatemala and was visiting Belize before meeting McCarthy. However, McCarthy confirmed that he would meet with Tsai in California on Wednesday, despite warnings from China that he was “playing with fire.” The “bipartisan” meeting was set to take place at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, just outside Los Angeles.

    McCarthy’s decision to meet with Tsai in the United States was viewed as a compromise that would underscore support for Taiwan but avoid inflaming tensions with China. However, Xu Xueyuan, the charge d’affaires of China’s embassy to the United States, warned that Washington risked “serious confrontation” no matter whether US leaders visited Taiwan or the reverse. She urged Washington “not to repeat playing with fire on the Taiwan question,” alluding among other things to last year’s visit to Taiwan by Pelosi.

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    As speaker of the House of Representatives, McCarthy is the most senior Republican lawmaker and is second in line to the US presidency. After arriving in New York last Wednesday ahead of her Central America swing, Tsai was greeted by flag-waving Taiwanese expatriates as she addressed a banquet. The United States remains Taiwan’s most important ally and its biggest arms supplier despite switching its diplomatic recognition to Beijing in 1979.

    China claims the democratic island as part of its territory to be retaken one day and, under its “One China” principle, no country may maintain official ties with both Beijing and Taipei. The US stopover comes at a key time, with Beijing having ramped up military, economic and diplomatic pressure on Taiwan since Tsai came to power in 2016. China has increased investment in Latin America, a key diplomatic battleground between Taipei and Beijing since the two sides split in 1949 after a civil war. Taiwan accused China on Sunday of using “coercion and intimidation” to lure away its allies after Honduran Foreign Minister Enrique Reina and his Chinese counterpart Qin Gang officially launched relations in Beijing.

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    On Monday in Belize, Tsai thanked one of Taiwan’s few remaining allies for its diplomatic support amid “constant threats and pressure” from China, in an address to the tiny country’s National Assembly. Only Belize and Guatemala remain allies of Taiwan in Central America after Nicaragua shifted its allegiance to Beijing in 2021.

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    Rajesh M
    Rajesh M
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