Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen will meet US House Speaker Kevin McCarthy in California rather than in Taipei, the Financial Times reported on Tuesday, hours after Taipei warned a high-profile US visit could provoke a Chinese military response.

Tsai’s government had provided McCarthy’s staff with intelligence about Chinese threats, the newspaper reported, citing an unidentified senior Taiwanese official.

vTaiwan marine military war game
Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen photographed on the second day of the island’s largest annual war drills. Photo: Wang Yu-ching/Taiwan President Office, via Flickr.

McCarthy had expressed an interest in visiting Taiwan, as his predecessor Nancy Pelosi had done in August.

Pelosi’s trip sparked condemnation from China, which held massive military drills around the self-ruled island in response in a move Taipei said was preparation for an invasion.

Taiwan lives under constant threat of such an invasion by China, which views the democratically ruled island as part of its territory to be seized one day, by force if necessary.

The United States is one of Taiwan’s closest allies and biggest arms suppliers but also adopts a “One China” Policy, in which the United States recognises Beijing and opposes any unilateral changes to the status quo from either side.

Taiwan’s defence minister said on Monday a sharp increase in Chinese defence spending announced at the weekend was potentially aimed at the island.

“I think they are waiting for a good reason to send troops, such as high-level visits from other countries to Taiwan or too-frequent activities between our military and other countries,” Chiu Kuo-cheng said.

US House Speaker Kevin McCarthy in 2020
US House Speaker Kevin McCarthy in 2020. Photo: Matt Johnson/Right Cheer.

The minister said Taiwan was “making advance preparations” for incursions deeper into waters around the island than have been the norm in recent years.

McCarthy’s office has not commented on the potential visit, which the FT reported would take place in April. Tsai’s office also offered no confirmation when approached by AFP on Tuesday.

Taiwan’s foreign ministry would neither confirm nor deny the planned visit.

“The ministry will announce to the public if there is any confirmed arrangement for the president’s visit but we don’t have any relevant information to share at the moment,” spokesman Jeff Liu said on Tuesday.

Tsai last visited the United States in 2019, stopping over while making official visits to diplomatic allies in the Caribbean.

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