Tsai Ing-wen’s stopover from Taiwan to the United States is “normal” and consistent with longstanding US policy, the White House said.
The White House has urged China to avoid “overreacting” to a planned stopover in the United States by the Taiwanese president, calling the passage “normal”.
White House national security spokesman John Kirby stressed on Wednesday that President Tsai Ing-wen’s transit was in line with US policy, which recognizes China’s claim to the self-governing island.
“This transit is consistent with our longstanding unofficial relationship with Taiwan and it is consistent with the United States’ One China policy, which remains unchanged,” he said.
“There is no reason – none – for the Chinese to overreact here,” Kirby added, noting that Washington hopes for a “normal and uneventful” transit through Tsai.
Tsai is due to cross New York on Wednesday and pass through Los Angeles in April as part of a trip to and from Guatemala and Belize. She is due to return to Taipei on April 7.
The Taiwanese president has passed through the United States before, most recently in 2019. But this time she is expected to meet with Speaker of the US House of Representatives Kevin McCarthy in California, a move that will likely anger Beijing.
Kirby said he could not speak for the top Republican lawmaker or his platform.
Beijing, however, has repeatedly warned against the meeting. Zhu Fenglian, the spokesperson for China’s Office of Taiwan Affairs, told reporters earlier this week that Tsai’s US “transits” went beyond just waiting at airports and hotels. She claimed they were designed to allow Tsai to meet with US officials and lawmakers.
“If she comes into contact with the Speaker of the United States House of Representatives, McCarthy, it will be another provocation that seriously violates the principle of ‘One China’, undermines the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the China and destroy peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait,” she said.
“We strongly oppose it and will certainly take steps to resolutely retaliate,” Zhu added, without giving details.
Beijing staged war games around taiwan last August, when the then Speaker of the United States House Nancy Pelosi traveled to Taipei.
On Wednesday, the White House warned against similar measures following Tsai’s trip. “The People’s Republic of China should not use this transit as a pretext to ramp up any activity around the Taiwan Strait,” Kirby said.
Under the “One China” Policythe United States recognizes the People’s Republic of China (PRC) in Beijing instead of the Republic of China (ROC) in Taipei as the sole and legal government of China.
But Washington takes no position on Taiwan’s sovereignty, saying the island’s future must be determined through peaceful means.
This policy is different from the PRC’s “One China” principle, under which Beijing insists that Taiwan is an inalienable part of its territory.
The United States does not officially recognize Taiwan but maintains commercial and security relations with the island.
Ties between Beijing and Washington have deteriorated on many points of tension in recent years, including trade issues, Taiwan’s statusChina’s claims in the South China Sea and continued US pressure against China’s growing influence in the Indo-Pacific.
Relations between the two countries were further strained earlier this year when the United States shot down what it described as Chinese spy balloon which passed through its territory.
China insisted the plane was a weather balloon that had veered off course and condemned the decision to bring it down.