Possible McCarthy-Tsai meet in California reflects fear of Washington, DPP toward PLA reaction
Published: Mar 08, 2023 01:15 AM
US House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy is followed by reporters as he heads to the Capitol Hill in Washington on January 3, 2023. McCarthy failed to win the 218 votes required to become Speaker. Photo: VCG

US House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy is followed by reporters as he heads to the Capitol Hill in Washington on January 3, 2023. McCarthy failed to win the 218 votes required to become Speaker. Photo: VCG

Several Western media outlets, citing insiders, have reported that the new US House Speaker Kevin McCarthy will meet with Taiwan regional leader Tsai Ing-wen in California this April during her "transit" in the US, rather than McCarthy visiting Taiwan island. This is to avoid an aggressive Chinese military response, as tensions run high between Beijing and Washington, according to the Financial Times.

The reports suggest that it was Tsai who persuaded McCarthy not to visit Taiwan and instead meet in the US. Currently, there is no official announcement regarding Tsai's South America visit transit through the US, nor have there been responses from McCarthy or Tsai regarding their meeting in California. The two sides are likely leaking the information to the media.

Still it is a serious matter that Tsai will transit through the US and be received by House Speaker. According to report, Tsai will also give a formal speech at the Reagan Library, which is a breakthrough from her previous treatment during "transit" through the US. It is believed that the Chinese side will also strongly oppose this and make a corresponding response, which is likely to be more intense than China's response to Tsai's previous transits through the US.

It is noteworthy that if the report is true, it reflects the fear of both the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) authorities and Washington regarding PLA's reaction. Taiwan's military chief Chiu Kuo-cheng recently told the media that the PLA is looking for an excuse to take action, for example Taiwan's arms purchases, visits of foreign officials, or frequent military exchanges with other countries, so the mainland will take action.

The US has repeatedly claimed that the PLA is intensifying preparations for an attack on Taiwan island and that such an attack could occur around 2027. Although the mainland's public position has always been to not give up efforts for peaceful reunification, the DPP authorities' worry about the possibility of war is clearly increasing, and Taiwan's society is becoming increasingly worried about the DPP's ruining the cross-Straits peace. What is even more alarming is that Taiwan will hold a new so-called "presidential election" next year. If the situation in the Taiwan Straits remains highly tense this year and the situation is even worse than last year, the DPP is worried that it will exacerbate the impression among the people of the island that "the DPP brings war, and the KMT brings peace." In last year's "nine-in-one" local elections, the DPP suffered a major defeat, and if things continue like this, they will face difficulties in next year's election.

This year, especially in the second half, the DPP authorities will be more focused on the upcoming "elections", so they will avoid war, but will definitely not stop their wrongdoings. Chiu also said recently that if the cross-Straits situation further escalates, such as PLA fighter jets enter the 12-nautical mile "air space or "territorial waters" of Taiwan island, the Taiwanese military will open fire, showing an arrogant attitude. In addition, according to Western media reports, McCarthy may still pay a provocative visit to Taiwan island after next year's "election."

The game surrounding the Taiwan question is destined to become increasingly complex, and the intensity of the game will continue to rise. The military preparations of the mainland have formed strong deterrence, but the US and Taiwan secessionists will also constantly come up with new tricks. For the mainland, our initiative and constantly increasing strength must be directly proportional.

The author is a commentator with the Global Times. opinion@globaltimes.com.cn