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WASHINGTON () — China has threatened to retaliate Wednesday if U.S. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy meets with Taiwan’s president during her upcoming trip to the United States.
The White House sent stark messages to China not to take this visit by President Tsai Ing-wen as anything other than a regular stopover on her way through Central and North America.
Tsai arrived in New York on Wednesday and was scheduled to spend Thursday in the city, but few details of the trip were made public. She’s also expected to stop in Los Angeles next week.
While in California, she is expected to meet with McCarthy; however, Chinese spokespeople have said China will “fight back” if they meet.
The meeting would have serious repercussions overall and a “serious, serious, serious” impact on U.S.-China relations, she said in a virtual session with reporters on Wednesday.
If they meet, China would consider that “another provocation that seriously violates the one-China principle, harms China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity,” a spokesperson for China’s Taiwan Affairs Office, Zhu Fenglian, told reporters.
Last month, McCarthy said, “I don’t think China can tell me what to do or where I can go at any time or any place.”
Tsai has made six trips through the U.S. during her presidency, meeting with members of Congress and members of the Taiwanese diaspora. ministration officials are underscoring that her coming trip, which Taiwan calls a “transit,” is in line with what she and her predecessors have done in the past.
Still, now, the U.S.-China relationship is strained over spy balloons and the possibility that China could be supplying lethal aid to Russia.
John Kirby, the White House national security spokesperson, reiterated this trip is private and unofficial.
“The people’s Republic of China should not use this transit as a pretext to step up any aggressive activity around the Taiwan strait,” he said.
Kirby said the Biden administration has had several discussions about this travel with Beijing at multiple levels, urging Beijing to keep the lines of communication open.
Beijing launched military drills in Taiwan’s airspace in response to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-Calif.) 24-hour trip to Taiwan in August. During the drills, they fired missiles toward the Taiwan strait. China has continued to threaten to use force to take Taiwan.