US House Speaker Kevin McCarthy meets Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen in California

Friday, April 7, 2023

McCarthy and Tsai meeting.
Image: Office of the Speaker of the United States House of Representatives.

On Wednesday, Kevin McCarthy, speaker of the US House of Representatives, met with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California.

McCarthy, a Republican, became the highest American official to meet a Taiwanese head of state on American soil since 1979, when the former began official relations with China.

During a press conference, McCarthy said: "The friendship between the people of Taiwan and America is a matter of profound importance to the free world and it is critical to maintain economic freedom, peace, and regional stability."

Representative Ashley Hinson, a Republican who also attended the meeting, tweeted an email she said Li Xiang, a Counsellor at the Chinese embassy in the US, sent her Tuesday, expressing "China's deep concern and firm opposition to this possible move."

Speaker Emerita Nancy Pelosi released a statement commending the meeting "for its leadership, its bipartisan participation and its distinguished and historic venue."

In a Wednesday press conference, United States National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby said the meeting was "not official" and "she's not meeting with any [...] [executive] officials."

The meeting came at the end of a week-long trip through North and Central America which saw Tsai meet with other US Representatives, including House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, and Senators Dan Sullivan, Joni Ernst, and Mark Kelly.

China asserts Taiwan is Chinese territory. According to Politico, China has recently vowed to reestablish control over the island by force if necessary.

The 1979 Taiwan Relations Act formed the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT), a nongovernmental entity, with the stated intent of enabling the continuation of unofficial relations between Taiwan and the US after the latter recognized the People's Republic of China "as the sole legal government of China," in the words of then-US president Jimmy Carter.