McCarthy’s planned meeting with Tsai is insane in repeating the same mistake
Published: Mar 29, 2023 10:36 PM
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

Albert Einstein once defined insanity as doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. The decision of Speaker of the House of Representatives and third in line to the presidency, Rep. Kevin McCarthy to meet with Taiwan regional leader Tsai Ing-wen appears to fit that definition. 

Former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, before leaving office, insisted on traveling to Taiwan to meet with Tsai, in the Speaker's official capacity. The plan caused Executive Branch infighting since US adherence to the Three Joint Communiqués requires it to limit interactions with Taiwan island to unofficial cultural and commercial exchanges. 

But tepid White House resistance caved to Speaker Pelosi's recklessness and provided her all the amenities of an official visit. China was incensed by the flagrant violation of the three Joint Communiques and reacted accordingly. In retrospect Pelosi's reckless visit accomplished nothing, other than exposing the US' hollow commitment to the one-China principle. 

Following the US midterm elections there was cautious optimism a Republican-led House would treat the sensitive Taiwan question with greater propriety. 

However, weeks into the new Congress Speaker McCarthy announced his intent to follow act on his predecessor's precedent and again visit Taiwan island. What was worse is that there was no pushback by the White House, despite the indisputable damage done by Pelosi. Albert Einstein's definition of insanity fits Speaker McCarthy's plans perfectly. 

McCarthy agreed to a proposed compromise by Tsai to meet in the US rather than on sovereign Chinese territory. Both officials were cowed into modifying their plan because they feared an increasingly severe Chinese reaction to their public offenses. But the change in meeting location was cosmetic only, and makes no difference in practice. 

China surely takes note that this is the second time within less than a year the secessionist Tsai Ing-wen is officially meeting with the third in line to the US President, and now on US soil. 

It is diplomatically indistinguishable from Tsai accepting an invitation to speak before the US House of Representatives as real heads of states have done, and with the US President's apparent concurrence. Considering the rapid deterioration of China-US relations this fresh insult to China's sensibilities could escalate unpredictably. 

The US cannot be considered a reliable partner on any matter if it repeatedly dishonors the most consequential agreements since President Richard Nixon's good faith outreach of 1971. Instead, today's bipartisan US rhetoric baits China by pouring gasoline on the embers that the Three Joint Communiques had cooled by falsifying China's intentions. From highest level officials US relations with Taiwan island, to about $4.5 billion in security assistance, to US' China containment strategy and the 1979 Taiwan Relations Act that sabotaged all hope of peaceful reunification, the US has flaunted its lack of reliability and ill intentions. 

Speaker McCarthy will vehemently disagree. He will insist that all US actions including recent Speaker meetings are intended to reassure Taiwanese secessionists that the US is committed to defending their independence ambitions, a choice they are free to make. 

Unfortunately, it will also be a dangerous provocation that baits China to demonstrate its commitment to defending One China's territorial integrity.

Clearly, McCarthy and the entire US Congress for which he speaks are ignorant of or in denial of the actual history of Taiwan as a sovereign component of China since AD 230. It would be wise for him to read China's 2022 white paper on the topic of Taiwan before his irresponsible meeting with Tsai in the US 

A kinetic war between the US and China is now on the horizon. There is little time for the US to credibly change course before the first shots are exchanged by accident or design. It is a fatal mistake for the US or any outsider to act on the false belief that the status of the Taiwan island is or ever has been negotiable. 

The author is a retired Marine Corps infantry officer and a former Pentagon employee. Opinions are of the author and do not represent the US government. opinion@globaltimes.com.cn