Taiwanese Vice President William Lai held a video call with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi — his second meeting with a senior U.S. politician in two days — on topics including human rights in China.
Pelosi, who has called for a diplomatic boycott of next month’s Beijing Winter Olympics, reiterated her concern about Chinese human rights abuses, according to a senior Democratic aide familiar with the call. She also discussed strong bipartisan support in Congress for Taiwan, according to the aide.
U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris greeted Lai at the inauguration of Honduran President Xiomara Castro on Thursday, a fleeting encounter that risks increasing tension between Washington and Beijing.
Lai, whose country is regarded by China as a breakaway province, described Pelosi as a friend of Taiwan and a champion of human rights.
China regularly protests any interactions by foreign officials with those from Taipei. Lai and Harris chatted for about 30 seconds according to Kolas Yotaka, spokesperson for the Taiwanese president’s office, who added that Lai thanked the U.S. for its “rock-solid” support of the island.
The U.S. has recognized Beijing for decades as the “sole legal government of China” under its “one China policy,” without clarifying its position on Taiwan’s sovereignty, making for notoriously delicate diplomacy.
China and the U.S. could face military conflict over the future of Taiwan, which is the “biggest tinderbox” between the two countries, Chinese Ambassador to the U.S. Qin Gang told National Public Radio.
“If the Taiwanese authorities, emboldened by the United States, keep going down the road for independence, it most likely will involve China and the United States, the two big countries, in a military conflict,” Qin said in an interview with the U.S. broadcaster posted Friday.
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