Taiwan Convinces Kevin McCarthy To Downgrade Taipei Trip To Avoid Angering China
Taiwan’s president Tsai Ing-wen has convinced House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) to downgrade a planned trip to Taipei, and instead meet in California in order to avoid an ‘aggressive Chinese military response,’ the Financial Times reports.
According to several people familiar with the situation, Tsai and McCarthy agreed to downgrade the visit because of Taiwanese security concerns, as tensions run high between Beijing and Washington. The move is a backtrack for McCarthy, who said last summer that he would visit Taiwan if elected Speaker of the House.
The venue change comes as the US steps up contingency planning for the region — one of the world’s most dangerous flashpoints — and highlights the impact of China’s military posturing to constrain Taiwan and undermine its de facto independence.
Washington has been rife with speculation about whether McCarthy would visit Taipei. Advocates of a trip say senior US lawmakers should show support for the country in the face of rising Chinese aggression, while critics argue that high-profile visits provoke China without helping Taiwan. -FT
According to a senior Taiwanese official, McCarthy’s team was provided with “some intelligence about what the Chinese Communist party is recently up to and the kinds of threats they pose,” adding that China is “not in a good situation.”
In August, former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) sparked China’s fury after visiting Taiwan – the first such trip by a US Speaker in 25 years. In response, the CCP held giant military exercises which included the firing of ballistic missiles over the country for the first time in history.
“There might be policies even more irrational than in the past emanating from Beijing,” said the Taiwanese official to FT. “If we can try to control this together, the risks it brings for everybody can be contained better.”
US officials have recently played down suggestions of an imminent Chinese attack on Taiwan, but the Biden administration is stepping up contingency planning with allies.
President Joe Biden has on four occasions over the past four years said the US would intervene if China launched an unprovoked attack on Taiwan. -FT
According to McCarthy, Taiwan’s concerns over a provocation were “reasonable.”
“This will accomplish McCarthy’s objective of elevating the issue and demonstrating he is willing to meet her, but the nature of the meeting physically happening in the US instead of Taiwan will also make it more difficult for Beijing to respond in the same provocative way like they did after the Pelosi visit,” said Eric Sayers, an Asia expert at the American Enterprise Institute.
On Monday, Taiwanese defense minister Chiu Kuo-cheng warned that the PLA was “looking for pretexts like foreign senior officials visiting or us conducting military exchanges with other countries” in order to take more aggressive action.
Mon, 03/06/2023 – 17:22
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