Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen, Kevin McCarthy meeting draws threat from China

Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen is expected to meet with House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif.,during an upcoming tour of the Americas, prompting Chinese threats amid tense relations between Washington and Beijing.

China threatened “resolute countermeasures” over the planned meeting between Tsai and McCarthy in Los Angeles – a part of her 10-day trip. Tsai framed her trip as an attempt to show Taiwan’s commitment to democratic values on a global level.

In addition to her stop in Los Angeles, Tsai is expected to also transit through New York Thursday before heading to Guatemala and Belize. Her two U.S. stops are the most closely watched visits on her tour.

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What is China saying?

Zhu Fenglian, the spokesperson for China's Taiwan Affairs Office, condemned Tsai’s U.S. stops, demanding that no U.S. officials meet with her.

“We firmly oppose this and will take resolute countermeasures,” Zhu said during a news conference Wednesday.

The U.S. should “refrain from arranging Tsai Ing-wen’s transit visits and even contact with American officials, and take concrete actions to fulfill its solemn commitment not to support Taiwan independence,” she added.

More: Nuclear warfare? China arming Russia? Fears of new Cold War rise.

China is set to “closely follow the development of the situation and resolutely defend national sovereignty and territorial integrity,” said Mao Ning, the Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson.

Mao also told reporters that the U.S. “should stop claiming to set up guardrails for China-U.S. relations while conducting dangerous activities that undermine the political foundation of bilateral ties.”

McCarthy-Tsai meeting fuels concerns by U.S. officials

McCarthy’s meeting with Taiwan’s leaders has triggered concerns over China’s reaction amid tense U.S-China relations following President Joe Biden’s order to shoot down a Chinese spy balloon found drifting over the continental U.S.

Relations with Beijing has also spiked following China’s support of Russian President Vladimir Putin amid the ongoing conflict in Ukraine following the Kremlin's invasion of its neighbor.

More: China President Xi to visit Russia in apparent show of support for Putin amid Ukraine war

But Mao blamed tensions between the U.S. and China on its relations with Tsai.

“It is not that China overreacts. It is that the U.S. kept emboldening Taiwan independence forces, which is egregious in nature,” Mao said.

U.S. administration officials emphasized that Tsai’s transits through the U.S are not unusual, noting that Tsai and her predecessors have made similar stops in the past. Tsai has made six transits through the U.S. throughout her presidency and has previously met with members of Congress during those stopovers.

Taiwan-China relations

Beijing has long claimed Taiwan as a part of its territory and has threatened to take control of the island by force if necessary.

More: US plans to expand its military presence in Philippines to counter threats against Taiwan

Recently, China has ramped up its pressure against Taiwan, including poaching the island’s few diplomatic allies as well as flying military fighter jets near the island almost daily. Honduras established diplomatic relations with China following breaking ties with Taiwan, eroding the number of countries that recognize the island as a sovereign nation.

Contributing The Associated Press

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Kevin McCarthy, Taiwan president meeting draws Chinese threat