TAIPEI, Taiwan — China vowed to retaliate against Taiwan after a meeting between the speaker of the United States House of Representatives and the island’s president, saying on Thursday that the US was on a “wrong and dangerous path”.
Speaker Kevin McCarthy hosted Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen on Wednesday, demonstrating US support for the autonomous island that China claims, along with a bipartisan delegation of more than a dozen US lawmakers.
The Biden administration insists there is nothing provocative about Tsai’s visit, the latest of half a dozen to the US. However, this comes at a time when US-China relations have fallen to a historic low, with US support for Taiwan becoming one. the main points of difference between the two forces.
But the official trappings of the meeting and the seniority of some elected officials in the congressional delegation may lead China to view it as an escalation. No speaker is known to have met with a Taiwanese president on U.S. soil since the U.S. severed formal diplomatic ties in 1979.
In response to the meeting, Beijing said it would “take decisive and forceful measures to protect national sovereignty and territorial integrity,” in a Foreign Ministry statement early Thursday.
It urged the US “not to go further down the wrong and dangerous path.”
In December, China’s military sent 71 aircraft and seven ships to Taiwan in a 24-hour show of force targeting the autonomous island after China expressed anger over Taiwan-related provisions in the annual US defense spending bill. China’s campaign of military pressure on Taiwan has intensified in recent years, with the Communist Party sending planes or ships to the island almost daily.
But by Thursday afternoon, there was no apparent sign of a full-scale military response.
“We will take decisive measures to punish separatist Taiwan independence forces and their actions, and resolutely defend our country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity,” China’s Taiwan Affairs Office said in a statement Thursday morning, labeling Tsai and her political party as separatists. .
Chinese ships participated in a three-day joint patrolling and inspection operation in the Taiwan Strait, state media reported Thursday morning. The Fujian Maritime Safety Administration said its vessel, the Haixun 06, would inspect cargo ships and others in the waters between Taiwan and China as part of the operation.
Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defense said Wednesday evening that it had tracked the Chinese aircraft carrier Shandong as it passed through the Bashi Strait southeast of Taiwan. It tracked three People’s Liberation Army Navy ships and one warplane around the island on Thursday morning.
US congressional visits to Taiwan have increased in frequency over the past year, and the American Institute in Taipei, the de facto embassy, announced the arrival of another delegation Thursday. House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Michael McCaul of Texas is leading a delegation of eight other lawmakers on a three-day visit to discuss regional security and trade, AIT said in a statement.
During their meeting on Wednesday, Tsai and McCarthy spoke carefully to avoid an unnecessary escalation of tensions with Beijing. Standing side by side at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in California, the two acknowledged China’s threats against the island’s government.
“America’s support for the Taiwanese people will remain resolute, unwavering and bipartisan,” McCarthy later said at a news conference. He also said that US-Taiwan ties are stronger than at any other time in his life.
Tsai said the “unwavering support reassures the Taiwanese people that we are not isolated.”
More than a dozen Democratic and Republican lawmakers, including the House’s third-ranking Democrat, joined the meeting.
Tsai said he and McCarthy talked about the importance of Taiwan’s self-defense, promoting strong trade and economic ties and the island’s government’s ability to participate in the international community.
But he also warned. “It’s no secret that today the peace we maintain and the democracy we’ve worked so hard to build are facing unprecedented challenges.”
“We once again find ourselves in a world where democracy is under threat, and the urgency of keeping the beacon of freedom burning cannot be understated,” he said.
The United States severed official relations with Taiwan in 1979, formally establishing diplomatic relations with the Beijing government. As part of its recognition of China, the US One China policy acknowledges that Beijing claims Taiwan, but does not endorse China’s claim, and the US remains Taiwan’s main provider of military and defense aid.
Washington also has a policy of strategic ambiguity, where it does not clearly say whether it will come to Taiwan’s aid in the event of a conflict with China.
In Taiwan, Tsai’s visit did not cause much fanfare, although fellow politicians paid close attention.
Ko Wen Jie, a former mayor of Taipei City who is believed to have presidential aspirations, said he welcomed any exchange between Taiwan and international leaders.
“Taiwan hopes to have a bigger space to operate globally, and the mainland should not be upset about it,” Ko wrote on his Facebook page. “It should show the attitude of the civilized people and stop their oppression by military force.”
Opposition lawmaker Johnny Chiang of the Nationalist Party said Tsai’s meeting with McCarthy was still part of the One China policy because it showed that while Congress was relatively free to support Taiwan, the White House was more constrained, according to local media. . .
In August, then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi traveled to Taiwan to meet with Tsai. China responded with its largest military exercise in decades, including firing a missile at the island.
Taiwan and China split after a civil war in 1949 and do not have formal relations, although they share billions of dollars in trade and investment.