House Speaker Kevin McCarthy urged for more U.S. weapons to be sent to Taiwan, an island China claims as its own, as he met with the Taiwanese president despite repeated warnings from China not to do so.
McCarthy met with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen on Wednesday at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in California, the highest-level meeting ever held in the U.S. for a visiting Taiwanese leader.
Addressing reporters after the meeting, he said, “We must continue the arms sales to Taiwan and make sure such sales reach Taiwan on a very timely basis,” the New York Post reported.
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The U.S. is one of the island’s main weapons suppliers, selling billions of dollars in arms over the past decade including missiles and fighter jet upgrades, according to Reuters. Last month, the U.S. approved a potential $619 million arms sale, including missiles for F-16 jets, Reuters reported.
China and Taiwan split in 1949 in a civil war that never officially ended. Since then, China’s openly stated goal of reabsorbing the democratic and capitalist island has grown into one of the world’s most sensitive geopolitical flashpoints.
McCarthy was asked by a reporter whether the U.S. should commit to defending Taiwan against Chinese military attacks. The question appears 12 minutes into this video.
“Our goal is that hypothetical never comes to fruition,” McCarthy responded. “And what we know through history — the best way to do that is supply the weapons to allow people to deter war. Supply the weapons so people can defend themselves. It is a critical lesson that we learned from Ukraine.”
The U.S. officially describes its ties to Taiwan as a “robust unofficial relationship,” saying that it does not support Taiwan independence while opposing “any unilateral changes to the status quo from either side,” according to the State Department.