As China Looks to Allies, Taiwan Does the Same

TAIPEI, TAIWAN – OCTOBER 10: Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen gives a speech on the Taiwan’s National Day on October 10, 2022 in Taipei, Taiwan. Taiwan playing a significant role in global supply chain for semiconductors has been facing intensifying threats from China, with more international supports from democracies such as the U.S., Canada and European countries pouring into the self-ruled island. (Photo by Annabelle Chih/Getty Images)

ANALYSIS/INTERVIEW — Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen is U.S.-bound this week, with scheduled stopovers in New York and Los Angeles. The visit is an unofficial one, with formal diplomatic missions planned across a 10-day trip throughout Central America. But it comes at an important juncture, as rising tensions position Taiwan as a potential flash point in U.S.-China relations. 

In what is perhaps the most controversial leg of the trip, U.S. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy plans to meet with Tsai in California, with the Biden administration urging China not to use this visit as a pretext for a further degrading of relations. In fact, when asked about the upcoming U.S. visit of the Taiwanese president at a press conference last week in Beijing, Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbi responded with a correction: “Taiwan is an inalienable part of China,” he replied. “There is no such thing as ‘Taiwanese president.’” The last time a House Speaker publicly convened meetings with senior Taiwanese leadership, Beijing responded with war games near the island. When a German Cabinet Minister recently arrived in Taiwan in a bid to expand technological cooperation, Wang described it as “a pretext to interfere in China’s internal affairs.”

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