Tsai, McCarthy meeting in U.S. widely condemned as 'a political show'
Updated 08:56, 07-Apr-2023

A meeting between Taiwan leader Tsai Ing-wen and U.S. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy in the U.S. state of California has been widely condemned as a political show, in which both sought political gains.

Disregarding China's opposition and representations, McCarthy, the third-ranking official in the U.S. government, insisted on meeting with Tsai on U.S. soil on Wednesday during the latter's "transit" through the United States on her way from Central America.

There is only one China in the world and Taiwan is part of China, which is an indisputable fact supported by history and the law. To date, 182 countries, including the U.S., have established diplomatic relations with the People's Republic of China on the basis of the one-China principle.

'Problem-makers' for China-U.S. relations

The hawkish stance against China by McCarthy, who was elected speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives in January only after a historic and embarrassing deadlock that had kept the lower chamber from being fully functional days after the new Congress convened, is opportunistic in nature, according to analysts.  

In his inaugural speech on January 7, McCarthy claimed the U.S. should address its long-term challenges – its rising debt and "the rise of the Communist Party of China." In March, a House Select Committee on China, proposed by McCarthy, was installed so as to win what he called "a new Cold War" with China. 

"This is what we call political scapegoating," said Einar Tangen, senior fellow at the Taihe Institute, an independent think tank based in Beijing.

"At this point, the only thing that the politicians in Washington can agree is it's not their fault, and therefore it must be somebody else's. And China is the easiest," Tangen told CGTN.

Josef Gregory Mahoney, professor of politics and international relations at East China Normal University, said McCarthy has been keen to exploiting anti-China sentiment in the U.S. political atmosphere to gain personal influence.

"It is a mechanism for him to appeal to his colleagues and even the president to create a bipartisanship and a point of leverage that can be used to advance other causes at his career," Mahoney told CGTN.

Hours after Tsai's meeting with McCarthy and some U.S. congressional members, the Chinese Embassy in the United States issued its condemnation.

"Using the Taiwan question for a show with political purposes, the U.S. politicians concerned have acted highly irresponsibly and turned themselves into problem-makers for China-U.S. relationship and the situation at the Taiwan Straits," said the embassy in a statement.

Tsai's attempts at 'Taiwan independence'

Wednesday's meeting between Tsai and McCarthy came less than one year after a provocative visit to China's Taiwan region by his predecessor Nancy Pelosi last August.

Since then, Tsai has been significantly weakened. In November's local elections, her Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) suffered a major defeat. Of the 21 positions of county and city chief contested, the Chinese Kuomintang party won 13, including in Taipei, Taoyuan, Taichung and New Taipei City, compared to the DPP's five wins, mainly in southern Taiwan.

Following DPP's poor performance, Tsai, who had promoted opposing the Chinese mainland and "defending Taiwan" during the campaigning, resigned as its chair.

Her approval rating has also crashed. Last December, the Taiwan Public Opinion Foundation poll found Tsai's approval rating had plummeted to 37.5 percent, and has not rebounded since.

Huang Chih-hsien, a writer and TV commentator in Taiwan, criticized Tsai's attempts to cling to Washington for "Taiwan independence."

"What Tsai Ing-wen wants during her 'transit' trip to the United States is to put the issue of 'Taiwan independence' on the international stage," Huang told China Media Group (CMG).

She added, Tsai is now "trying to cooperate with the U.S. in every way possible, because 'Taiwan independence' [forces] and the U.S. can use each other, and they need each other."

"The United States has been playing the 'Taiwan card,' and Tsai Ing-wen also wants to be played by this American card," Lai Yueh-tchienn, a current affairs commentator in Taiwan, told CMG.

"But the damage is borne by the people in Taiwan," Lai added.

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