House Speaker Kevin McCarthy is poised to meet with Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen on Wednesday – a historic event that comes amid warnings from China.
McCarthy’s office shared details of the meeting in a release Monday morning, stating that the California Republican will host a bipartisan meeting with Tsai at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in California. The bipartisan group will include Rep. Pete Aguilar of California, who is a member of Democratic leadership, and the leaders of the select committee on China, among others, according to a copy of the invite list obtained by CNN.
Taiwan’s official Central News Agency also reported Monday that Tsai would meet with McCarthy, citing the island’s presidential office.
The meeting has been long anticipated and is all-but-guaranteed to rattle the tense relationship between the US and China, which became even more fraught after a Chinese spy balloon floated over North America and was then shot down by US fighter jets in February.
CNN previously reported that Tsai is visiting Central America on a diplomatic mission that includes stop overs in the US. China has pledged to “resolutely fight back” should a meeting between Tsai and McCarthy take place.
China’s ruling Communist Party claims the self-governing island democracy as part of its territory despite never having controlled it.
Under the “One China” policy, the US acknowledges China’s position that Taiwan is part of China, but has never officially recognized Beijing’s claim to the island. China’s leadership has refused to rule out the use of military force to bring the island under Beijing’s control.
The White House is declining to say whether it supports the planned meeting between McCarthy and Taiwan’s president.
“I would refer you to the Speaker’s office and to President Tsai’s office for any details on a potential meeting,” principal deputy press secretary Olivia Dalton said in response to a question from CNN aboard Air Force One Monday.
After arriving in New York City on last week, Tsai said that Taiwan’s relationship with the United States has “never been closer.”
“We know that we are stronger when we stand together in solidarity with fellow democracies. Taiwan cannot be isolated and we do not take friendship for granted,” Tsai said at a banquet with members of the Taiwanese-American community, according to footage from CNN’s Taiwan affiliate SET TV.
Taiwan’s presidential office has so far declined to confirm to CNN Tsai’s potential US meetings.
Last week, China’s charge d’affaires Xu Xueyuan told reporters that Tsai’s presence in the US could lead to a “serious” confrontation in the US-China relationship and have a “severe impact” on their ties.
McCarthy’s predecessor, Democratic Rep. Nancy Pelosi, visited Taiwan last year before her tenure as speaker ended, marking the first time a US House speaker had visited Taiwan in 25 years. During her trip, Pelosi said the visit was intended to make it “unequivocally clear” the US would “not abandon” the democratically governed island.
That visit was met with strong resistance from China, with Beijing responding by launching extensive military exercises around the island.
This story has been updated with additional developments.
CNN’s Melanie Zanona and Betsy Klein contributed to this report.