Taiwan will not allow “repeated provocations” from China, the island’s defense minister said on Tuesday, when asked about Beijing’s possible reaction to a reported meeting between Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen and US House Speaker Kevin McCarthy.
Tsai plans to meet McCarthy in the United States in coming weeks, two sources told Reuters on Monday, a move that could replace the Republican speaker’s anticipated but sensitive trip to the democratically governed island claimed by China.
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China staged war games around Taiwan last August after a visit to Taipei by then US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
Speaking to reporters in parliament, Taiwan Defense Minister Chiu Kuo-cheng said he was not aware of a planned meeting between Tsai and McCarthy.
“The Chinese communists use any reason to send troops,” Chiu said. “But we won’t just say ‘bring it on’. We will take a peaceful and rational approach.”
Although it hopes this does not happen, Taiwan’s military is prepared to fight, he added.
“If the Chinese communists move again, the armed forces’ job is to fight,” Chiu said. “We won’t allow repeated provocations against us. We can’t accept that.”
Taiwan’s government has not announced a Tsai visit to the United States, which previously she has made as stop overs on the way to countries which maintain formal diplomatic ties with Taiwan in Latin America and the Caribbean.
Taiwan’s foreign ministry said on Tuesday said it will make an announcement at an appropriate time about any foreign travel for the president but that it had nothing to announce for the time being. McCarthy has also not confirmed a meeting with Tsai.
One of the sources told Reuters that should the US meeting go forward - likely in April - it did not necessarily rule out McCarthy visiting Taiwan in the future.
Four other sources - including US officials and people with knowledge of the US and Taiwan administrations’ thinking - said both sides were deeply uneasy that a future visit by McCarthy would severely increase tensions across the Taiwan Strait at a time when the island is preparing for its own presidential election early next year.
House Speaker McCarthy plans to meet Taiwan’s president in the US: Sources
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