House Speaker McCarthy Meets With Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-Wen In Simi Valley
McCarthy, Ing-Wen affirm closeness between the two countries
By Evan Symon, April 6, 2023 2:30 am
Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy and Taiwan President Tsai Ing-Wen met at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley on Wednesday, with both affirming close U.S.-Taiwanese relations at a time when relations between the U.S. and China have become more strained.
The meeting between McCarthy and Ing-Wen was announced earlier this week, with their meeting being the first between a U.S. House Speaker and Taiwanese president on U.S. soil, as well as the first meeting between those officials since former Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited Taipei last year.
China, which has tried to increase their claim on Taiwan in recent years, has condemned Ing-Wen’s visit to Simi Valley following her other stops in Central America and New York over the last several days. In a statement on Monday, Chinese embassy charge d’affaires Xu Xueyuan said that “The US keeps saying that transit is not a visit and that there are precedents, but we should not use past mistakes as excuses for repeating them today. We urge Washington not to repeat playing with fire on the Taiwan question.”
Despite the warnings, the meeting went ahead as planned on Wednesday. Flanked by supporters waving Taiwanese, American, and Hong Kong flags, the leaders entered the library and gave statements to reporters in front of the old Air Force One aircraft inside. Despite not formally recognizing Taiwan on the world stage, Speaker McCarthy reaffirmed support and defense of Taiwan.
“I believe our bond is stronger now than at any point in my lifetime,” Speaker McCarthy said. “And, of course, President Tsai is a great champion of that bond. We take our support for the people Taiwan seriously and are determined to speak with one voice. The relations between Taiwan have never been this strong in my lifetime.”
“We must continue the arms sales to Taiwan and make sure such sales reach Taiwan on a very timely basis. Second, we must strengthen our economic cooperation, particularly with trade and technology.”
President Ing-Wen said, “The presence and unwavering support reassures the people of Taiwan that we are not isolated and we are not alone.”
The official U.S. statement on the meeting came from Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who stated, “There was nothing new in Tsai’s transits and such stops are private and unofficial. Beijing should not use the transit as an excuse to take any actions to ratchet up tensions, to further push it changing the status quo.”
Meanwhile, China condemned the meeting once again, calling the meeting between McCarthy and Ing-Wen an “act of collusion“. China also moved an aircraft carrier group closer to Taiwan before the meeting, with other acts of saber-rattling also likely to come soon.
In California, however, the meeting was seen almost entirely was positive.
“There was a tremendous amount of support for Taiwan today,” explained Ryan Lewis, a foreign policy advisor to several Congressional candidates, to the Globe on Wednesday. “The only pro-China incident was a plane flying overhead that said ‘One China! Taiwan is part of China!’. That’s it. And the biggest gripe from the crowd was the traffic caused by security and the number of people coming.
“Overall, for the Speaker and the Taiwanese President, this was a success. Both sides reaffirmed their closeness. U.S. will prioritize weapons to them, and Taiwan expressed that microchips and semi-conductors will still flow to the U.S. And China hates this. If McCarthy visits Taiwan, like he wants, it will only embarrass them more. And that’s nothing if someone like Biden visits.”
President Ing-Wen is expected to be back in Taiwan soon, with a McCarthy visit to Taiwan possibly coming later this year.