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China ‘seriously concerned’ by Taiwan president’s plan to meet US Speaker

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Mao Ning

China says it is 'seriously concerned' by Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen's 'transit' plans as she is reportedly scheduled to meet with US House Speaker Kevin McCarthy in the United States.

At a press conference on Wednesday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Mao Ning stressed that Beijing was "seriously concerned about the news" of Tsai's reported US visit and the proposed meeting with the hawkish Republican, McCarthy.

"We have lodged solemn representations with the US side and asked them to clarify," Mao said, adding, "The real threat to peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait is the separatist forces of Taiwan independence.”

Beijing's reaction came just two days after the Financial Times for the first time reported McCarthy’s plans to see Tsai in his home state of California instead of Taipei, citing caution from the self-ruled island to avoid China's ire.

The report added that the meeting was likely to take place in April.

Taiwanese presidents, including Tsai, have a record of traveling through the US en route to other countries, usually for a day or two, though the White House has generally avoided meeting senior Taiwanese officials in Washington.

Mao further stressed that Beijing was strongly opposed to any form of official exchange between Washington and Taipei.

“No one should underestimate the strong determination of the Chinese government and people to safeguard national sovereignty and territorial integrity. The real threat to peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait is the separatist forces of Taiwan independence,” she added.

China has sovereignty over Taiwan and under the 'One China' policy, almost all countries, including the US, recognize that sovereignty, meaning they would not establish direct diplomatic contact with the self-proclaimed government in Taiwan, which is a constant source of friction between Beijing and Washington.

However, in its continued bid to antagonize Beijing, Washington regularly oversteps its own principles, siding with Taipei's secessionist administration, engaging in frequent military missions around the island, and serving as the biggest seller of arms to the island in violation of its own official policy.

Washington continues to be Taipei’s main supplier of military equipment.

China has rebuffed calls for talks from Tsai since she took office in 2016, believing her to be a separatist.

The previous speaker of the US House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, visited Taiwan in August last year, in a highly controversial trip that drew fury from Beijing and brought the United States and China to the brink of a military crisis. 

China launched a series of military drills, summoned the US ambassador and halted some imports from Taiwan in a display of anger against her visit.

Beijing, which regards Taiwan as a breakaway province, has not ruled out the use of force to achieve reunification.

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