Rep. Ryan Zinke (R-MT) detailed his top takeaways from the bipartisan congressional meeting he recently attended with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen, providing his remarks during an appearance on SiriusXM’s Breitbart News Saturday.
Zinke, a former Navy SEAL who served overseas in Asia, first emphasized that House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), who led the meeting, planned the visit regardless of the Chinese government’s anticipated disapproval of it.
“China doesn’t dictate who the speaker of the House of Representatives talks to or communicates with. That’s number one,” Zinke began.
McCarthy, Zinke, top members of the Select Committee on the Chinese Communist Party, and a handful of others attended the day-long event with Tsai at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in California on Wednesday. The rare encounter between the powerful U.S. House speaker and Taiwan’s leader was indeed met with an expected barrage of condemnations from China and its state-run media outlets in the days that followed.
Zinke noted the absence of political partisanship surrounding U.S. support for Taiwan, saying, “Number two is that this is bipartisan, so the messages we’ve been sending concerning Taiwan have been ambiguous. The message is clear: We believe in a ‘one China’ but two systems policy, and freedom makes a difference.”
The U.S. has sought to carefully balance its relationship with China and Taiwan, an island situated just off China’s southeast coast. China vehemently rejects Taiwan’s sovereignty, and a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson reiterated a warning after Tsai’s stop with U.S. congressional leaders that the U.S. government landing on the perceived wrong side of “the Taiwan question” would come at the expense of the U.S.’s diplomatic, but increasingly adversarial, relationship with China.
“The Taiwan question is at the core of China’s core interests and the first red line that must not be crossed in China-US relations,” the Foreign Ministry spokesperson said. “’Taiwan independence’ and cross-Strait peace and stability are as irreconcilable as fire and water. The pursuit of ‘Taiwan independence’ will lead nowhere.”
Zinke, who also serves on the Congressional-Executive Commission on China, ran through future plans the U.S. has with respect to Taiwan as the island faces continued hostility from China.
“When it concerns Taiwan, there’s weapons systems that have been approved and funded but yet delivered, so we need to uncork the bottle on that. We need to recognize that we do have territories out there, U.S. territories, Guam … Saipan, American Samoa that also need support,” Zinke said.
The Montana Republican added that on the issue of trade, the U.S. “should be the king of trade out in the Pacific, and China, with their activities, you know, is chewing on our position hard … so there’s a lot out there, but I think China is a threat, and I think Taiwan is a beacon of hope in Asia.”
Write to Ashley Oliver at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter at @asholiver.
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