‘Wrong Move’: McCarthy And China Go To War Of Words Over Taiwanese President Visit

(Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

Dylan Housman Deputy News Editor
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The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy are engaged in a war of words after the latter met Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen in California Wednesday.

McCarthy led a bipartisan delegation in a meeting with Tsai Wednesday at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library outside Los Angeles, California, after China had promised “strong and resolute” measures in response if the meeting went forward. McCarthy was reportedly planning to travel to Taiwan to meet with Tsai there, but the meeting was moved due to concerns about the CCP response in Taipei.

A Chinese Embassy spokesperson told Semafor that China expresses “firm opposition” and will “respond resolutely to the wrong move by the U.S. side.” A Chinese naval fleet including an aircraft carrier was spotted to the southeast of Taiwan Wednesday, and China announced it will start boarding and inspecting ships in the Taiwan Strait.

The CCP, which considers Taiwan to be part of China, reacted harshly to then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to the island last year, firing missiles and staging a blockade exercise.

“The US acts with Taiwan to connive at “Taiwan independence” separatists’ political activities in the United States, conduct official contact with Taiwan and upgrade the substantive relations with Taiwan, and frame it as a ‘transit’,” CCP Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mao Ning said Thursday. “This is a serious violation of the one-China principle and the provisions of the three China-US joint communiqués. It seriously infringes upon China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and sends an egregiously wrong signal to the “Taiwan independence” separatist forces.”

McCarthy fired back at the CCP during Tsai’s visit Wednesday, refusing to take direction from Beijing. “I am the Speaker of the House. There is no place that China is going to tell me where I can go or who I can speak to, whether you be foe or whether you be friend.”

He added that the United States is not looking to escalate tensions surrounding Taiwan, and took a shot at the NBA, which has deferred to China on contentious issues in recent years to maintain close business ties: “I’m not the general manager of the Houston Rockets.”

The U.S. does not formally maintain relations with Taiwan, and has characterized Tsai’s visit as a “transit” through the U.S. She first stopped in New York on her way to Latin America before coming back through California on her return leg to Taiwan. (RELATED: China Declares Patrol Around Taiwan After Speaker Visit)

While Tsai was in California, House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Michael McCaul, a Texas Republican, led a delegation visiting Taiwan. On that trip, he compared Chinese President Xi Jinping to Hitler and pushed for a strengthening of relations between Washington and Taipei.