US House leader McCarthy, Taiwan president meet as China protests

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy welcomes Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen as she arrives at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, Calif. Wednesday, April 5, 2023
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy welcomes Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen as she arrives at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, Calif. Wednesday, April 5, 2023 Copyright Ringo H.W. Chiu/Copyright 2023 The AP. All rights reserved.
Copyright Ringo H.W. Chiu/Copyright 2023 The AP. All rights reserved.
By Euronews with AP, AFP
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China claims sovereignty over Taiwan, which it considers a rogue province. The United States meanwhile has long maintained a "strategic ambiguity" on the matter, trying to dissuade China from invading the island, while at the same time discouraging Taiwanese leaders from declaring independence.

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House Speaker Kevin McCarthy greeted Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen for a historic meeting on American soil Wednesday, underscoring US lawmakers' growing support for the self-ruled island as tensions rise with rival China.

McCarthy greeted Tsai on her arrival at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Southern California.

The meeting outside Los Angeles comes on what is technically a stopover for President Tsai Ing-wen, after a trip to Latin America to visit Taiwan's few remaining official allies, Guatemala and Belize.

China views any interaction between US and Taiwanese officials as a challenge to its claim to the island as its territory. Beijing has reacted to past meetings with shows of force and by pulling back on dialogue with the United States.

China responded to a visit by then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to Taiwan in August 2022 with its largest live-fire drills in decades, including firing a missile over the island.

Speaking to Euronews on Wednesday after a meeting of NATO foreign affairs ministers in Brussels, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken outlined the consequences if China did make a move on Taiwan. 

The United States broke off official ties with Taiwan in 1979 while formally establishing diplomatic relations with the Beijing government. 

While the US acknowledges the “one-China” policy in which Beijing lays claim to Taiwan, it does not endorse China’s claim to the island and remains Taiwan’s key provider of military and defence assistance.

Wednesday's interaction is the first known meeting between a House speaker and a Taiwanese president on American territory since the US broke off formal diplomatic relations with Taiwan.

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