McCarthy to Meet Taiwan's President in US

McCarthy to Meet Taiwan's President in US
Kevin McCarthy speaks to guests at the Elephant Remembers dinner in Omaha on Feb. 29, 2020. Photo by Matt Johnson

U.S. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy is set to meet Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen in the United States in the coming weeks, anonymous sources told Reuters on Monday.

The sources said Tsai had been invited to speak at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library during transit through California on a planned visit to Central America, with McCarthy likely to meet her in the United States.

But they added it would not rule out McCarthy's possible visit to Taiwan – the trip he has mentioned several times but has not officially announced yet.

McCarthy said earlier that he would visit Taiwan if he became the speaker, following then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s trip to the island in August. After China responded with military drills around Taiwan, tensions rose over its plan to invade the democratically governed island.

The British Financial Times quoted a senior Taiwanese official who said that Taiwan provided McCarthy’s team with “some intelligence about what the Chinese Communist party is recently up to and the kinds of threats they pose,” saying that China’s “current situation is not good.” Based on information provided, McCarthy and Tsai agreed to meet in the U.S. while Taiwanese president will visit California and New York in early April as part of a trip to Guatemala and Belize.

Karine Jean-Pierre, the White House spokesperson, and Ned Price, the State Department spokesperson, declined to verify President Tsai's visit to the United States, stating that Taiwan has not yet released any travel plans, Taiwan's Central News Agency reported.

Although Taiwanese presidents, including Tsai, have a history of traveling through the United States while going to other destinations, the American government has traditionally refrained from meeting with high-ranking Taiwanese officials in Washington.

The news on McCarthy’s meeting with Tsai comes on the same day that Taiwan People’s Party (TPP) Chairman Ko Wen-je announced a visit to the U.S. next month to meet with officials in Washington as the party’s presidential candidate, the Taipei Times reported based on a TPP spokesman.

Ko is planning to visit New York, Boston, Washington, and Houston, the U.S. Department of State, academic institutions, and biomedical companies, and hopes to have meetings with members of the U.S. Congress.

"We want to use this opportunity to exchange views with the U.S. side, about Chairman Ko's views on diplomacy or relations with China going forward," party Secretary General Tom Chou told reporters.

The presidential and parliamentary elections will take place in Taiwan in January next year.