Taiwan Prez says ‘democracy under threat’ while meeting US House Speaker

US House Speaker Kevin McCarthy visiting Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen issued a dire warning and said that "democracy is under threat

Washington: During her meeting with US House Speaker Kevin McCarthy in California, visiting Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen issued a dire warning and said that “democracy is under threat”.

The highly-anticipated meeting took place on Wednesday at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley amid warnings from China about a “serious confrontation” as retaliation to the talks.

This was the second time Tsai met a top American lawmaker in less than a year, following a visit from then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to Taiwan in August 2022, reports CNN.

She is also the first president of Taiwan to meet a US House speaker on American soil.

“It is no secret that today the peace we have maintained and the democracy which (we) have worked hard to build are facing unprecedented challenges,” Tsai said during a joint press conference with McCarthy.

“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.

“We’re stronger when we are together… In our efforts to protect our way of life, Taiwan is grateful to have the US by our side,” the President added.

On his part, the House Speaker said: “The friendship between the people of Taiwan and America is a matter of profound importance to the free world. It is critical to maintain economic freedom, peace and regional stability.

“Taiwan is a successful democracy, thriving economy, and global leader in health and science. Our cooperation continues to expand through dialogue and exchange.

“Here at the Reagan Library, exhibits show (late President Ronald) Reagan’s belief in democracy and commitment to the ideas of peace and freedom.

“Those values serve as the bedrock of our friendship with the people of Taiwan. And they are more important now than ever before.

“I’m optimistic we will continue to find ways for the people of America and Taiwan to work together to promote economic freedom, peace, and stability in Asia.”

Beijing, however, condemned the meeting, with a spokesperson for the Foreign Ministry saying that “China firmly opposes and strongly condemns it”.

“In response to the egregiously wrong action taken by the US and Taiwan, China will take strong and resolute measures to defend our sovereignty and territorial integrity,” CNN quoted the spokesperson as saying on Wednesday night.

It also urged the US to “stop containing China by exploiting the Taiwan issue” and “not go further down the wrong and dangerous path”.

Before the meeting, China had sent a “large scale patrol and rescue vessel” to the central and northern Taiwan Strait for a three-day “joint patrol and inspection”.

Tsai’s visit to the US was part of her trip to Central America which took her to Guatemala and Belize this week. California was the last stop before heading home.

She first arrived in New York on March 29.

Taiwan considers itself a sovereign state, while China views it as a breakaway province that will eventually be reunited with mainland.

Last year, tensions between China, Taiwan and the US reached a new high after Pelosi flew to Taipei to meet Tsai.

Beijing responded to Pelosi’s visit with a week of massive military drills in the waters around Taiwan.

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