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Tsai, McCarthy reaffirm strong Taiwan-U.S. bond after historic meeting

04/06/2023 05:29 AM
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CNA photo April 5, 2023
CNA photo April 5, 2023

Los Angeles, April 5 (CNA) Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) and U.S. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy reaffirmed the strong partnership between Taiwan and the United States and their commitment to safeguarding regional stability, following their historic meeting in California on Wednesday (U.S. time).

"I believe our bond is stronger now than at any time or point in my lifetime," McCarthy said in a joint press appearance with Tsai after their two-hour closed-door meeting at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley.

The meeting, which was also attended by a bipartisan group of Congress members, was the first-ever meeting between a Taiwanese president and a U.S. house speaker on American soil, and the third time a Taiwanese leader has met with a U.S. House speaker since the Republic of China (Taiwan's official name) and the United States ended official diplomatic relations in 1979.

"Taiwan is a successful democracy, a thriving economy, and a global leader in health and science. And whether it's our deep commercial ties, strong people-to-people relationships, or shared values, our cooperation with the people of Taiwan continue to expand through dialogue and exchange," the Republican House Speaker said.

He stressed that the friendship between the people of Taiwan and the United States "is a matter of profound importance to the free world" and is critical to maintaining economic freedom, peace and regional stability.

Touting Wednesday's meeting as a "bipartisan meeting of Republicans and Democrats united together," McCarthy said the U.S. will honor its obligations and commitment to its shared values with Taiwan.

Tsai, meanwhile, said the presence of bipartisan Congress members at the meeting and their unwavering support reassured the people of Taiwan that "we are not isolated, and we are not alone."

She noted that the peace and democracy Taiwan has worked hard to maintain and build are facing "unprecedented challenges."

"We once again find ourselves in a world where democracy is under threat. And the urgency of keeping the beacon of freedom shining cannot be understated," she said.

In her meeting with congressional leaders, Tsai said she reiterated Taiwan's commitment to defending the "peaceful status quo," and highlighted a belief, which late U.S. President Ronald Reagan championed, "that to preserve peace, we must be strong."

"I would like to add that we are stronger when we are together," she said.

The president thanked U.S. members of Congress for proposing initiatives that enhance Taiwan's self-defense capabilities, foster robust trade and economic ties between Taiwan and the U.S., and support Taiwan's meaningful participation in the international community.

Tsai also paid tribute to Reagan, who she said played a crucial role in protecting and fortifying U.S.-Taiwan relations at a time of changing diplomatic realities.

The Reagan administration's Six Assurances, passed in 1982, as well as the landmark Taiwan Relations Act, laid the foundation for a strong and unique partnership of over four decades, during which Taiwan has enjoyed peace, prosperity and democracy, Tsai noted.

Wednesday's meeting took place eight months after McCarthy's predecessor, Nancy Pelosi, briefly visited Taiwan in early August 2022 and met with Tsai at the Presidential Office.

The trip by Pelosi, the first sitting U.S. House speaker to have visited Taiwan in 25 years after Newt Gingrich's visit in 1997, prompted China to launch week-long large-scale military drills around Taiwan and suspend the imports of dozens of Taiwanese agricultural and food products.

Beijing, which claims Taiwan is part of Chinese territory and opposes any official interactions between Taipei and Washington, has repeatedly raised objections to the meeting between Tsai and McCarthy.

CNA photo April 5, 2023
CNA photo April 5, 2023

Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Mao Ning (毛寧) told a press briefing earlier this week that Beijing would "take resolute measures" to protect its national interests should the two meet.

Shortly before Tsai arrived in Los Angeles Tuesday evening, after visiting New York, Guatemala, and Belize as part of a 10-day overseas trip, China announced a three-day drill in the Taiwan Strait that it characterized as a "joint cruise and patrol special operation."

China also sailed its newest aircraft carrier, the Shandong (山東艦), through waters south of Taiwan into the West Pacific Ocean for a long-range exercise on Wednesday, according to Taiwan's Ministry of National Defense (MND).

(By Wen Kuei-hsiang and Christie Chen)


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