President Tsai may meet Speaker McCarthy in US instead of Taiwan due to 'security concerns'

Kevin McCarthy might still visit Taiwan in the future.

Kerr Puay Hian | March 08, 2023, 10:18 AM

Follow us on Telegram for the latest updates:

Taiwan's president Tsai Ing-wen reportedly convinced U.S. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy to meet in early April in California rather than in Taipei.

Financial Times (FT) quoted anonymous sources who said they agreed to meet in the U.S. because of "Taiwanese security concerns".

Reuters similarly confirmed FT's report through their sources, who believed that both U.S. and Taiwan administrations were "deeply uneasy" that a future visit by McCarthy would severely increase tensions across the Taiwan Strait when the island is preparing for its presidential election early next year.

Worries that "blockade" will happen again

Last August, then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi's controversial visit to Taiwan triggered retaliatory reactions from China, launching live-fire drills in waters surrounding Taiwan.

With sprawling warships and aircraft surrounding the island, Taiwan claimed it amounted to a "blockade".

At the same time, China has also halted imports of hundreds of Taiwanese food products and banned exports of essential materials like sand to Taiwan.

FT quoted a person familiar with Taiwan's administration's handling of the matter, who said renewed Chinese exercises around Taiwan could disrupt international shipping routes that would weigh on the global economy.

Tsai will transit at U.S. on the way to Central America

Reuters also reported that Tsai will meet McCarthy during transit through California on a planned visit to Central America. She has also accepted an invitation to speak at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library.

Taiwan's de facto embassy in Washington told Reuters it had "no information to share", and arrangements for Tsai's visits are in line with usual practice.

An expert interviewed by FT believes that meeting in the U.S. will make it more difficult for China to respond as they did with Pelosi's visit.

McCarthy might still visit Taiwan

Others believe that the high-profile visit to the U.S. could invoke as much retaliation from China.

FT claimed that Tsai's aides argue that Taiwan must not allow China's coercion to succeed.

A senior Taiwanese official told FT that Tsai's administration had provided McCarthy's team with "some intelligence about what the Chinese Communist party is recently up to and the kinds of threats they pose".

The official added that China was "not in a good situation".

A source told Reuters should the U.S. meeting go forward, it will not necessarily rule out McCarthy from visiting Taiwan in the future.

Related Stories

Top image via Central News Agency & Facebook Kevin McCarthy