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Taiwanese president Tsai Ing-wen plans to meet with Speaker Kevin McCarthy

United States and China relations may take a turn in another direction after President Tsai’s visit.

"Tsai Ing-wen and Ma Ying-jeou on the 2017 Summer Universiade" by 總統府 is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

Arriving in New York yesterday, President Tsai of Taiwan is set to spend the day in Manhattan before traveling onto Guatemala and Belize.

Her visit to Southern California is speculated to take place on April 5 at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Ventura County, though that has yet to be officially confirmed.

Tsai’s potential trip comes less than a year after former Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi traveled to Taiwan last August.

And as they did for Pelosi’s visit, the Chinese government has reacted strongly... to the idea of a meeting between current Speaker Kevin McCarthy and President Tsai.

Spokespeople for the Chinese government said the country will assuredly take measures to fight back... and that the meeting could catalyze a “serious confrontation in the China-US relationship.”

Eric Heikkila teaches at USC’s Price School of Public Policy... He’s a faculty member at the USC US-China Institute... Heikkila believes the mediation of this conflict lies in finding the middle-ground.

Eric Heikkila: Our friendships aren’t just with folks in China, but the friendships are also with folks in Taiwan... With things as tense as they are, providing some kind of reassurance to the people on Taiwan that they’re not alone, that the United States is there in some meaningful way, it is important.

Heikkila adds that it’s important to show that the attempt at resolution is genuine...

Heikkila: If it could be done in the way that we had been talking about before, in a way that’s looking to calm things down and to resolve things rather than to sort of looking to to raise the temperature in ways that are not necessary and in fact, may be counterproductive.

It’s currently unclear how exactly China might respond to the meeting.... should it occur, but Heikkila says it’ll likely be similar to what we’ve seen before.

Heikkila: There’s a whole broad range of things that they could be doing. And I mean, one that’s likely is some kind of demonstration of military show of force, as was done when Speaker Pelosi went to Taiwan last year.

And he says there are other ways global superpower China could respond...

Heikkila: There are the economic ties. There are also sort of collateral moves in other arenas. For example, I think it was today that President Xi-Jinping announced sort of further military cooperation with Russia. And one doesn’t know, but that might have also been sort of in the balance. Well, if you’re going to cause trouble there, we’re going to cause trouble here.

Aside from the possible geopolitical impacts of the meeting. President Tsai’s potential visit to LA also has very personal implications.

Amos Pai is a member of USC’s Taiwanese Student Association... He is also politically active and has interned for a small political party in Taiwan.

On the topic of the meeting, he had this to say:

Amos Pai: I really appreciate this happening and people start to know about Taiwan as a whole and that is a major step than what we had before. Growing up I was taught that know one knows about Taiwan were such a small country and such a small island and were accustomed to not thinking Taiwan is important.

While leaders are still waiting with baited breath for confirmation of the meeting between Tsai and McCarthy, Heikkila says it’s more than likely the two will sit down early next week.

For Annenberg Media, I’m Jonathan Martin