Taipei, Taiwan — China vowed to retaliate against Taiwan on Thursday after a meeting between the US Speaker of the House and the island nation’s president, saying the US was “following a wrong and dangerous path”.
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy hosted Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen on Wednesday as the United States backs the self-ruled island, which China claims, along with a bipartisan delegation of more than a dozen American lawmakers.
The Biden administration said there was nothing provocative about Tsai’s visit, the latest of a half-dozen visits to the United States, but U.S.-China relations have sunk to historic lows and U.S. support for Taiwan is on the rise. one of the main differences between the two powers.
But the formal circumstances of the meeting and the high ranks of some elected officials in the congressional delegation may prompt China to see it as an escalation. No speaker has met a Taiwanese president on U.S. soil since the U.S. severed formal diplomatic ties in 1979.
In response to the meeting, Beijing said it would take “firm and forceful measures to protect national sovereignty and territorial integrity,” in a Foreign Ministry statement issued early Thursday.
He urged the United States “not to continue down a wrong and dangerous path.”
By Thursday afternoon, there were no obvious signs of a large-scale military response, as China has done in the past.
“We will take firm measures to punish the ‘Taiwan independence’ separatist forces and their actions, and resolutely protect our country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity,” China’s Taiwan Affairs Office said in a statement Thursday morning, referring to Tsai and her political party as separatists. .
Chinese ships conducted three days of joint patrolling and inspection in the Taiwan Strait, state media said Thursday morning. The Fujian Maritime Safety Administration said its vessel, the Haixun 06, was inspecting cargo ships and others in waters between Taiwan and China as part of the operation.
Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defense said Wednesday evening that it had tracked China’s Shandong aircraft carrier as it passed through the Bashi Strait in southeastern Taiwan. On Thursday morning, the People’s Liberation Army tracked three naval ships and a fighter jet around the island.
The PLA regularly flies fighter jets to Taiwan and sends navy ships around the island in a pressure campaign that has intensified in recent years.
US congressional visits to Taiwan have increased over the past year, and the American Institute in Taipei, the de facto embassy, announced the arrival of another delegation on Thursday.
House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Michael McCaul is leading a delegation of eight other lawmakers on regional security and trade for a three-day visit to Texas, AIT said in a statement.
At Wednesday’s meeting, Tsai and McCarthy spoke carefully to avoid unnecessarily escalating tensions with Beijing. Standing side by side at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in California, they acknowledged China’s threats against the island’s government.
“America’s support for the Taiwanese people remains firm, unwavering and bipartisan,” McCarthy said at a later news conference. He also said that US-Taiwan ties are stronger than at any other point in his life.
Tsai said “unwavering support reassures the people of Taiwan that we are not isolated.”
More than a dozen Democratic and Republican lawmakers, including the House’s third-ranking Democrat, joined the meeting.
In their meeting, Tsai and McCarthy discussed the importance of Taiwan’s self-defense, promoting strong trade and economic ties, and supporting the island’s government’s ability to participate in the international community, Tsai said.
But he also warned: “It is no secret that today the peace we maintain and the democracy we have worked so hard to build are facing unprecedented challenges.”
“Once again, we find ourselves in a world where democracy is at risk, and the urgency of preserving the beacon of freedom cannot be underestimated.”
The United States severed official relations with Taiwan in 1979, while officially establishing diplomatic relations with the Beijing government. As part of its recognition of China, the US “one China policy” recognizes Beijing’s claim to Taiwan, but does not support China’s claim, and the US remains Taiwan’s key military and defense provider.
The US also follows a policy of strategic ambiguity, where it does not explicitly say whether it will help Taiwan in the event of a conflict with China.
Last summer, then-Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi traveled to Taiwan to meet with Tsai. China has responded to past trips by Taiwanese presidents through the United States and past trips to Taiwan by high-ranking U.S. officials with a show of military force. After Pelosi’s visit, China responded with its largest live-fire exercise in decades, including firing a missile over the island.
Taiwan and China split in 1949 after a civil war and have no official ties, although they share billions of dollars in trade and investment.