Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen’s meetings with Texas Senator Ted Cruz and Governor Greg Abbott during a stopover in Houston has enraged Beijing, urging the U.S. to commit to the “One China” policy.
Ing-wen’s nine-day trip also includes Central America, with stops in El Salvador, Guatemala, Nicaragua and Honduras, where she arrived on Monday following a statement from Senator Cruz.
He said he and Taiwan’s president discussed arms sales, economic relations and hoped trade exchanges between the two countries would rise again, reported the Straits Times.
“We are firmly opposed to the Taiwan leader’s engagement with US officials under the pretext of transit, and her attempt to undermine China-US relations,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said.
A daily dose of Asian America's essential stories, in under 5 minutes.
Get our collection of Asian America's most essential stories to your inbox daily for free.
Unsure? Check out our Newsletter Archive.
Taipei also confirmed on Monday that Ing-wen had a phone conversation with Senator John McCain, the head of the Senate Committee on Armed Services, according to the Telegraph.
The state-owned newspaper the Global Times, on the other hand, warned that China would “take revenge” if President-elect Donald Trump reneged on the “One China” policy, which is the recognition by the U.S. that there is only one nation, and Taiwan is a part of it.
It said “there is no room for bargaining,” adding that: “In case he tears up the ‘One China’ policy after taking office, the mainland is fully prepared. Beijing would rather break ties with the US if necessary. We would like to see whether US voters will support their president to ruin Sino-US relations and destabilize the entire Asia-Pacific region.”
The Chinese reportedly sent letters to members of Congress, asking them not to meet with Ing-wen, according to Cruz.
“The People’s Republic of China needs to understand that in America, we make decisions about meeting with visitors for ourselves,” he said. “This is not about the PRC. This is about the US relationship with Taiwan, an ally we are legally bound to defend.”
It is expected that China will not take any punitive action, according to political analyst Yen Chen-Shen.
“It is normal that China protests but it knows that it is not out of the ordinary for US local congressmen to meet Taiwan’s leaders,” explained Chen-Shen. “Beijing is just going to wait and see until Mr Trump is in office.”