China warns against Taiwan's president meeting US House leader

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy has not ruled out a visit to the island

President Tsai Ing-wen at the boarding gate of the international airport in Taoyuan, Taiwan, on March 29. AFP
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China has warned of consequences if US House Speaker Kevin McCarthy meets Taiwan's president during her upcoming trip through Los Angeles.

Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen landed in New York on Wednesday and will spend Thursday in the city before touring the island's diplomatic allies in the Americas, Guatemala and Belize.

Ms Tsai is then due to stop in Los Angeles on her way back to Taiwan on April 5, when a meeting with Mr McCarthy is tentatively scheduled.

Ms Tsai was greeted by Taiwan's representative to the US, Hsiao Bi-khim, and Laura Rosenberger, the head of the informal US embassy to the island.

The planned meeting with Mr McCarthy has brought fears of heightened friction between Beijing and Washington. Biden administration officials tried to play down Ms Tsai's US stopovers.

The spokeswoman for China's Taiwan Affairs Office, Zhu Fenglian, denounced Ms Tsai's stopovers and demanded that no US official meets her.

Speaking in Beijing, she said that if Ms Tsai met with Mr McCarthy, China would "definitely take measures to resolutely fight back," Reuters reported.

The US should “refrain from arranging Tsai Ing-wen’s transit visits and even contact with American officials and take concrete actions to fulfil its solemn commitment not to support Taiwan independence”, she said.

Under a 1978 agreement to normalise relations between China and the US, Washington agreed to recognise Beijing as the sole seat of China’s government, while acknowledging but not endorsing the Chinese position that there is but one China and that Taiwan is part of it.

The US has insisted that any unification of the island and the mainland must be peaceful.

Mr McCarthy, a Republican from California, has said he will meet Ms Tsai when she is in the US and has not ruled out the possibility of travelling to Taiwan in a show of support.

Tension was heightened between the US and China after a two-day visit by then-House speaker Nancy Pelosi to Taiwan in 2022, which Beijing regarded as a major provocation.

Agencies contributed to this report.

Updated: March 30, 2023, 2:14 AM