Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen met with U.S. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy and other members of Congress this week, prompting backlash from China.
Tsai met with McCarthy and a group of bipartisan lawmakers on Wednesday at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in California, in an anticipated event that showed solidarity between Washington, D.C. and Taipei.
“It is no secret that today the peace we have maintained and the democracy which (we) have worked hard to build are facing unprecedented challenges,” Tsai said in her remarks. “We once again find ourselves in a world where democracy is under threat and the urgency of keeping the beacon of freedom shining cannot be understated.”
During the meeting, Tsai praised Congress for receiving her with “their presence and unwavering support” and “enhancing Taiwan’s self-defense capabilities,” referring to the large U.S. arms sales to the island every year.
“The friendship between the people of Taiwan and America is a matter of profound importance to the free world. It is critical to maintaining economic freedom, peace and regional stability,” McCarthy said during the meeting.
The Chinese Embassy in the U.S. sent a four-page email to McCarthy and other members of Congress after they met with Tsai on Wednesday.
“I have to point out that China will not sit idly by in the face of a blatant provocation and will most likely take necessary and resolute actions in response to the unwanted situation. Let’s work together to prevent such a thing from happening,” wrote Li Xiang, the embassy’s liaison to Congress, according to a copy of the email obtained by PunchBowl News.
“Former Speaker Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan last year triggered a serious crisis in the China-U.S. relationship, and the lessons should be learned” Li continued, referring to former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan last year.
Ahead of the meeting between Tsai and McCarthy, China deployed several maritime vessels to the Taiwan strait for a three-day “joint patrol and inspection” operation, China’s Fujian Maritime Safety Administration said in a statement.
“I am the speaker of the House,” McCarthy told reporters after the meetings. “There is no place that China’s going to tell me where I can go and who I can speak to, whether you be foe or whether you be a friend.”