In a move sure to raise eyebrows in China, U.S. senator and former presidential hopeful Ted Cruz met with Taiwan president Tsai Ing-wen in Houston on Sunday.
Cruz, who lost in the race to become the Republican presidential candidate to Donald Trump last year, used the occasion to fire a word-bullet China’s way.
He said that his team had received a “curious letter” from the Chinese consulate asking him to reject Taiwan’s visit.
“The People’s Republic of China needs to understand that in America we make decisions about meeting with visitors for ourselves.
“The Chinese do not give us veto power over those with whom they meet. We will continue to meet with anyone, including the Taiwanese, as we see fit,” Cruz was quoted as saying by AFP.
Hours before Cruz and Tsai met, China issued a firm warming via the state-run Global Times, telling the U.S. not to recognise Taiwan.
“The U.S. and Taiwan now should restrain, or be forced to restrain, themselves,” said the article.
“There is no need for Beijing to sacrifice bilateral ties for the sake of Taiwan … Beijing would rather break ties with the U.S. if necessary.
“We would like to see whether U.S. voters will support their president to ruin Sino-U.S. relations and destabilize the entire Asia-Pacific region.”
It continued: “If Trump reneges on the one-China policy after taking office, the Chinese people will demand the government to take revenge. There is no room for bargaining.”
Trump’s team, at least, appears to have decided against meeting Tsai this time round — just a month after China reacted in fury when Trump took a call from Tsai upon his election win.
Trump’s decision to take the call — and now, Cruz’s meeting — goes against decades-long U.S. diplomatic policy not to recognise Taiwan as a nation.
China views Taiwan as a rogue state that it needs to bring back to the mainland. As such, the U.S. recognises Beijing as the only representative of China, in order to maintain stability in East Asia.
Taiwan, too, does not have United Nations status.
Tsai was in Houston as a stopover from Taiwan, on the way to a state tour with various central American nations, starting with Honduras.
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