Taiwan leader, US Speaker McCarthy meet in California despite Chinese warnings

LOS ANGELES: US House Speaker Kevin McCarthy met Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen in California on Wednesday, becoming the most senior US figure to meet a Taiwanese leader on US soil since 1979 despite threats of retaliation from China, which claims self-ruled Taiwan as its own.

McCarthy, a Republican who through his House position is number three in the US leadership hierarchy, welcomed Tsai on Wednesday morning at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California, near Los Angeles.

At the start of a meeting including other Republican and Democratic lawmakers, McCarthy called Tsai “a great friend to America” and added: “I am optimistic we will continue to find ways for the people of America and Taiwan to work together to promote economic freedom, democracy, peace and stability.”

Tsai thanked McCarthy for his hospitality, calling it warm, like the California sunshine, and also thanked the rest of the congressional delegation, saying: “I am so pleased.”

China staged war games around Taiwan last August following the visit to Taipei of then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Taiwan’s defence ministry said a Chinese aircraft carrier group was in the waters off the island’s southeast coast ahead of the meeting between Tsai and McCarthy in California.

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