US top Republican McCarthy to host Taiwanese president

Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy.

US House Speaker Kevin McCarthy says he would meet Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen in California, amid stern warnings from China.

Tsai, who stopped over in the United States on her return from Central America, will meet with McCarthy at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library on Wednesday, just outside Los Angeles, McCartney’s office said Monday.

US media reported that around 20 US lawmakers planned to accompany the speaker to the meeting.

McCarthy is the most senior Republican lawmaker and is second in line to the US presidency.

The charge d'affaires of China's embassy to Washington Xu Xueyuan said last week that Washington risked "serious confrontation" no matter whether US leaders visited Taiwan or the reverse.

"The US keeps saying that transit is not a visit and that there are precedents, but we should not use past mistakes as excuses for repeating them today," she said.

Xu urged Washington "not to repeat playing with fire on the Taiwan question,” referring to last year's visit of former speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi to Taipei.

The Taiwanese leader arrived in New York on Wednesday, ahead of her Central America swing.

The move prompted anger in China, with Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Mao Ning expressing strong opposition to any form of official interaction between the US and the self-ruled island.

China has sovereignty over Taiwan. The US does not recognize Taiwan as a country and officially supports the "One China" policy, but regularly oversteps its own principles. The island has become China's most sensitive territorial issue and a major bone of contention with Washington.

Washington continues to antagonize Beijing by siding with Taipei's secessionist administration, engaging in frequent military missions around the island, and serving as its largest weapons supplier.

Former speaker Pelosi's visit to Taipei infuriated China back then and prompted it to conduct its largest-ever military exercises around the island.

And on Friday, a number of Chinese aircraft conducted combat readiness patrols over the Taiwan Strait.

Accusing China of creating tension in the region, Taiwan's defense ministry condemned the purported drills as "irrational actions.”

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