Beijing Hit With the Fantods Over Prospect That President Tsai Will Meet With McCarthy

Free Chinese leader insists that en route back to China from America she’ll drop by on House Speaker at Los Angeles.

AP/Yuki Iwamura
Taiwan's president, Tsai Ing-wen, at New York, March 29, 2023. AP/Yuki Iwamura

Beijing and Washington are at odds over a possible meeting between the Free Chinese president, Tsai Ing-wen, and the speaker of the American House of Representatives. This time the speaker is not the Democrat, Nancy Pelosi, but the Republican, Kevin McCarthy, whom Ms. Tsai may meet at Los Angeles on her way back to the Republic of China on Taiwan, after state visits to two Central American nations, Guatemala and Belize.

Before taking off for New York from Taipei, Ms. Tsai insisted that she would not yield to “external pressure.” The idea that she might see Speaker McCarthy in the United States, though, is almost as infuriating to Beijing — or so the communists would have us believe — as was the visit in August of Speaker Pelosi to Taipei. After Mrs. Pelosi’s visit, though, the Communists eventually settled down.

A spokesperson for China’s State Council is offering all the usual reasons why a meeting with Mr. McCarthy should never happen. It “would be a provocation that  violates the one-China principle, undermines China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity as well as damages peace and stability across the Taiwan Straits,” said the statement, promising “resolute measures to counter this.”

The statement was a reminder of the exercises staged by the Chinese not only while Ms. Pelosi was in Taipei but for weeks afterward. Chinese planes and ships encircled the island, violating its territorial waters until finally exercises tapered off. The Chinese still stage periodic drills stopping short of armed conflict.

Isn’t it, though, a little different to take umbrage at what would essentially be just a courtesy call in a foreign country while Ms. Tsai is on her way back home? Not to hear the Chinese talking about it. “Intensive activities of the PLA (People’s Liberation Army) have already been observed shortly before Tsai’s trip,” reports the Global Times, published by People’s Daily, the party newspaper.

Global Times reported 16 PLA planes and four PLA vessels “were detected around the island of Taiwan.” Among the planes, it said, was an H-6 bomber, capable of aerial refueling and escorted by fighter jets as it entered Taiwan’s air defense identification zone. The Communist Chinese heaped scorn on attempts by Washington to get them to calm down and not take a stopover so seriously, especially since Ms. Tsai won’t be dropping by Washington and will certainly not be seeing any American officials.

No way could the spokesman for the National Security Council, John Kirby, convince Beijing that Ms. Tsai’s visit will be “normal,” just like her six previous transits through American ports of entry.“Despite repeated warnings from the Chinese side, the US has been making excuses for Tsai’s transit,” said the Global Times.

Yes, said Mr. Kirby, “things are tense,” but he also held out the prospect of the secretary of state, Antony Blinken, going to the People’s Republic on a mission that would tamp down tensions. Mr. Blinken was set to go in February before the ruckus over the spy balloons that China was discovered to be lofting over North America.

While a meeting between Ms. Tsai and Mr. McCarthy is not definite, she promised not to let the Chinese intimidate her. Taiwan would “firmly walk on the road of freedom and democracy,” she said, promising to “neither yield nor provoke.”

Right now she has a more immediate problem, that of persuading the handful of countries with which Taiwan still has formal diplomatic relations to continue to recognize Taipei, not Beijing, as the capital of all China. Since Honduras switched diplomatic recognition to Beijing on Sunday, she’s hoping Guatemala and Belize will continue to maintain ties.

President Carter, in what some see as a bow to reality and others as a strategic blunder, recognized Beijing as capital of all China in 1978, but the Chinese don’t like the ambivalence of America’s “commitment” to defend Taiwan. Rather than seeing Mr. McCarthy while passing through Los Angeles, said a Chinese spokeswoman, the president of the Republic of China should be “staying put in airports and hotels.”


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