The administration of U.S. President Joe Biden is trying to lower any possible animosity from China over an upcoming visit to the United States by Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen.
President Tsai will stopover in California and New York later this month before embarking on an official mission to Central America. An unnamed administration official says the Biden administration has told Beijing that past Taiwanese presidents have routinely made stopover visits in the U.S. on their way to other nations, including Tsai, who has made six stopover visits between 2016 and 2019.
The official says China should not use Tsai’s stopover in the U.S. as a reason to take any aggressive action towards Taiwan.
China responded to a visit to Taiwan last August by then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi by launching several days of massive military drills over the Taiwan Strait, including firing ballistic missiles in the waterway that separates the island from mainland China.
Beijing considers the democratically-ruled island part of its territory, even though Taiwan has been self-governing since the end of China’s civil war in 1949, when Chiang Kai-shek’s Nationalist forces were driven off the mainland by Mao Zedong’s Communists. China has vowed to bring the island under its control by any means necessary, including a military takeover.
The United States switched diplomatic recognition of China from Taiwan to Beijing in 1979, but it provides Taiwan military equipment for self-defense under the Taiwan Relations Act.
News outlets said last month that Tsai will give a speech at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Center near Los Angeles ahead of her scheduled trip to Central America. It was also reported that House Speaker Kevin McCarthy will meet with President Tsai during her stopover in the U.S. The Republican leader, who represents a district in California, has previously expressed an interest in visiting Taiwan himself.