China warned retaliation on Wednesday if U.S. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy meets Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen during her planned transit through the United States next month, claiming such a meeting would constitute a "provocation."
China, which claims democratic Taiwan as its territory, has frequently cautioned U.S. officials not to meet with Tsai, interpreting it as support for Taiwan's quest to be recognized as a separate nation.
China conducted war simulations around Taiwan last August when then-U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited Taipei. Taiwan's armed forces have stated they will look for Chinese manoeuvres when President Tsai is abroad.
Tsai will depart on Wednesday for a tour to Guatemala and Belize via New York City and Los Angeles. Although it has not been confirmed, she will likely see McCarthy in California after her time.
The spokesperson for China's Taiwan Relations Office, Zhu Fenglian, told reporters in Beijing that Tsai's "transits" in the United States were not limited to her waiting at the airport or hotel but also included meetings with U.S. officials and legislators.
"If she has contact with U.S. House Speaker McCarthy, it will be another provocation that seriously violates the one-China principle, harms China's sovereignty and territorial integrity, and destroys peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait," she said.
"We firmly oppose this and will take measures to fight back resolutely," Zhu stated without providing specifics.
According to the United States, such transits by Taiwanese presidents are common, and China should not utilize Tsai's trip to pursue aggressive action against Taiwan.
While visiting diplomatic friends in South America, the Caribbean, and the Pacific, Taiwanese presidents commonly transit through the United States, which, despite not being official visits, is frequently used by both parties for high-level discussions.
China asserts that it and Taiwan are part of "one China" and that, as a Chinese province, Taiwan has no right to state-to-state relations.
Taiwan's government rejects China's sovereignty claims vehemently, and while Tsai has frequently suggested negotiations with Beijing, she has also stated that only the Taiwanese people can determine their future.
Tsai is anticipated to make remarks at the airport before her aircraft to New York departs.