A bipartisan group of senators met quietly with Taiwan’s president in New York last week, expressing support for democracy on the island, and legislation that would impose tough economic and financial sanctions on China if it invaded Taiwan.
The meeting with Republican Sens. Dan Sullivan of Alaska, Joni Ernst of Iowa and Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly of Arizona was revealed as Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen and the Biden administration head to the most important event of their closely watched travels. United State
Tsai plans to meet with Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy (R., Calif.) on Wednesday, which Beijing has warned will trigger unspecified retaliation, testing the ability of the United States and China to manage tensions.
“There’s this pressure, let’s face it, that’s the pressure that the Chinese Communist Party is putting on at full capacity,” Mr. Sullivan said in an interview. “When you have a leader of this important democracy come to your country, it is more important than ever to make sure that the dictators in Beijing do not dictate who we can or cannot meet with, especially on American soil.”
Ms Tsai is scheduled to land in Los Angeles on Tuesday night the second of two multi-day stops in the United States en route to and from Taiwan’s diplomatic partners in Central America. High on her agenda in California is a long-awaited meeting with Mr. McCarthy at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library on Wednesday.
Visits by Taiwanese leaders to the US are described as “transit” and considered unofficial, part of Washington’s delicate diplomatic dance with Beijing, which regards Taiwan as part of Chinese territory. As a result, Taiwanese leaders avoid stops in Washington and do not usually meet with senior American officials.
The White House has repeatedly described Ms. Tsai’s stops in the US, which are centered around visits to Guatemala and Belize, as not unlike previous transits.
“It’s private and off the record,” White House press secretary Karen Jean-Pierre told reporters Tuesday. “There should be no reason for China to overreact here.”
The senators’ meeting with Ms. Tsai took place on Friday morning at the Lotte New York Palace Hotel and lasted about an hour. All three senators are military veterans, and members of the Senate Armed Services Committee. Ms. Tsai had previously met Mr. Sullivan and Ms. Ernst several times, but this was the first time she had met Mr. Kelly.
Ms. Tsai also met last week in New York with House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D., NY), an event first reported by Punchbowl News, a Capitol Hill newscast.
Mr. Sullivan said he spoke to Ms. Tsai about the Stand with Taiwan Act, a sanctions law he reintroduced last week with Rep. Mike Gallagher (R., Wes.). The bill imposes sanctions on members of the Chinese Communist Party, financial institutions and Chinese industry no later than three days after the US administration determines that China invaded Taiwan. It would also bar US companies from making investments in CCP-affiliated entities and ban imports of certain products extracted or made in China, from raw minerals and textiles to pharmaceuticals.
“There’s a growing bipartisan interest in this kind of deterrence,” Sullivan said. He said that one of the lessons of the Russian invasion of Ukraine is that to be an effective deterrent, sanctions must be in place before any invasion rather than after.
Ms. Ernst said after her meeting with Ms. Tsai that she is more determined to strengthen America’s partnership with Taiwan through trade, enhanced military training and rapid arms transfers.
Mr. Kelly said they discussed shared security and economic priorities, including the $40 billion semiconductor campus made by Taiwan Semiconductor. a company
It is being built in North Phoenix. The project is a masterpiece in the Biden administration’s plan to bring chip production back to the United States
“While transiting across the United States, the President communicates with American friends, in line with previous precedent,” said the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative’s Office in the United States. The office said it “has no further comments to share regarding the details of any meetings.”
If Mr. McCarthy’s meeting goes ahead as planned on Wednesday, the Republican Speaker of the House will become the highest-ranking US official to meet a Taiwanese leader on US soil since the practice of transit visits began.
A spokesman for the Chinese consulate in Los Angeles said Monday that such a meeting would be “an assault on the political foundation of Sino-US relations.” “This is the first red line that must not be crossed.”
Taiwan’s foreign ministry said on Tuesday that China’s criticism was “becoming increasingly ridiculous” and that it would not back down in the face of authoritarian pressure.
Taipei’s increasingly close relationship with Washington has been a growing concern in Beijing, turning the self-ruled island into the most volatile flashpoint in relations between the world’s two largest economies. The Chinese Communist Party, which has never ruled Taiwan before, nonetheless vows that it will one day take over the country, by force if necessary. Beijing is expanding and modernizing its military with this possibility in mind, spurring similar steps in Taiwan and the United States
As tensions mounted, Ms. Tsai’s office and the Biden administration made an effort to keep the Taiwanese leader out of the public eye during her stopover in the United States.
During a previous stop in New York, Ms. Tsai appeared briefly at an off-the-beaten-track coffee shop in Brooklyn, where she declined to be interviewed, before accepting an award from the Hudson Institute for Conservative Research at an in-door event.
After Nancy Pelosi, McCarthy’s predecessor as Speaker of the House, traveled to Taiwan last summer — the highest-profile US official to do so in a quarter of a century — Beijing surrounded the island with missile and ballistic missile fire and tested its defenses with naval ships and warplanes. It was an unusual show of force that sparked new concerns within the US military about China’s ability to corner Taiwan.
That episode pushed relations between Washington and Beijing into a downward spiral that both capitals attempted to reverse with limited success.
Mr. McCarthy has expressed interest in visiting Taiwan himself after being appointed speaker, but the prospect of a repeat of Ms. Pelosi’s trip and Beijing’s war maneuvers has worried some in Taipei. After considering the risks, members of Ms. Tsai’s decision-making circle worked to persuade Mr. McCarthy to meet Ms. Tsai in the US instead, according to people familiar with the discussions.
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A government official familiar with the discussions attributed the outcome to a high degree of trust between Taipei and Washington.
“It’s an amazing diplomatic move by anyone in the United States and Taiwan who was able to pull this off,” Lev Nachman, a political science professor at Taiwan’s National Chengchi University, said of persuading Taipei McCarthy to meet in the United States.
Giving Beijing an excuse to repeat the live-fire drills would have politically damaged Ms Tsai’s ruling Democratic Progressive Party, which was beaten in local elections late last year and is trying to drum up support ahead of the January presidential election. Nachman said.
Chinese military analyst Fu Qianchao told the Chinese nationalist Global Times over the weekend that he Anticipate the Chinese army’s response McCarthy’s meeting was to be similar to the one he launched after Ms. Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan.
Taiwanese military and defense officials said they did not expect the PLA to respond forcefully, but that the island was prepared for that eventuality.
Charles Hutzler contributed to this article.
Corrections and amplifications
A group of bipartisan senators expressed their support for democracy in Taiwan at a recent meeting with Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen. An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that senators had expressed support for independence. (corrected April 4)
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