US House of Representatives Speaker Kevin McCarthy confirmed plans to meet with President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) in the US this year, but added that the meeting does not preclude a trip to Taiwan later.
“That has nothing to do with my travel, if I would go to Taiwan,” McCarthy told reporters on Tuesday night when asked about the meeting.
The Financial Times on Monday first reported McCarthy’s plans to meet in California with Tsai rather than Taipei.
“China can’t tell me where and when I can go,” McCarthy said.
Last month, House Foreign Affairs Committee Chair Michael McCaul said McCarthy would plan a trip to the nation either later this year or next year.
However, such a visit was seen as setting up a potential confrontation similar to the one in August last year, when then-House speaker Nancy Pelosi traveled to Taiwan.
McCarthy has said he would like to travel here as speaker and bring a bipartisan group of lawmakers.
However, the Chinese government has urged McCarthy not to visit Taiwan and “to earnestly abide by the ‘one China’ principle,” Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokeswoman Mao Ning (毛寧) said on Jan. 30.
The White House on Tuesday rebutted Chinese criticism of its approach to Taiwan, saying its “one China” policy had not changed and that it was opposed to any unilateral actions to change the cross-Taiwan Strait “status quo.”
“We seek strategic competition with China. We do not seek conflict,” White House spokesman John Kirby said during a news briefing.
“There’s been no change to our ‘one China’ policy. We do not support independence for Taiwan,” Kirby said, adding that the US does not want to see the “status quo” across the Taiwan Strait changed “unilaterally or by force.”
Kirby was responding to comments that Chinese Minister of Foreign Affairs Qin Gang (秦剛) made earlier in the day during his first news conference in his new role.
Qin, who previously served as ambassador to Washington, said that the US’ China policy had “entirely deviated” from the right track and that the two countries were headed for “conflict and confrontation” if the US did not change its course.
Qin said the US was seeking to “contain” China by “exploiting” the issue of Taiwan, and warned that Washington’s mishandling of Taiwan policy could “shake the very foundations of China-US relations.”
In Taipei, the Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) criticized Qin’s invocation of the Chinese constitution during the news conference to assert Beijing’s claims of sovereignty over Taiwan.
Responding to a question on the subject during the news conference, Qin held up a copy of the Chinese constitution and quoted from its preamble: “Taiwan is part of the sacred territory of the People’s Republic of China. It is the inviolable duty of all Chinese people, including our compatriots in Taiwan, to accomplish the great task of reunifying the motherland.”
The MAC said such claims “deviate from the truth and principles for upholding international peace,” and are not accepted by Taiwanese.
“The Republic of China is a sovereign country. Taiwan has never been a part of the People’s Republic of China,” and its status is therefore not an “internal matter” for Beijing, the MAC said.
The foundations for maintaining the cross-strait “status quo” and regional peace lie in the acknowledgment that “neither side of the Taiwan Strait belongs to the other,” it said.
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