Kirby: 'We Hope to See…A Normal, Uneventful Transit' by Taiwan's President

( – At a White press briefing on Wednesday, spokesman John Kirby emphasized that the United States’ One-China policy has not changed and will not change because of Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen’s stopover here on her way to and from Central America.

Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen arrived in New York on Wednesday, a so-called “transit” stopover on her way to Central America. She plans to depart for Guatemala and Belize on March 31, then stop in Los Angeles on April 5 before arriving back in Taiwan on April 7.

China, furious about Tsai’s U.S. visit — especially her possible meeting with House Speaker Kevin McCarthy in Los Angeles — is threatening “resolute countermeasures,” Chinese spokesman Zhu Fenglian told a news conference on Wednesday.

“The U.S. should “refrain from arranging Tsai Ing-wen’s transit visits and even contact with American officials, and take concrete actions to fulfill its solemn commitment not to support Taiwan independence.”

Kirby, in response, urged China not to overreact:


“What we hope to see here is a normal, uneventful transit by President Tsai Ing-wen, because that’s what’s happened before, and there’s no reason for it to be any different this time,” Kirby said. “I will let Beijing speak for itself. And I’m certainly not going to speak for Speaker McCarthy or his agenda. There is no reason — none — for the Chinese to overreact here.”

‘Not uncommon’

Kirby said Tsai’s “transit” is “consistent with our longstanding, unofficial relationship with Taiwan, and it is consistent with the United States’ One China policy, which remains unchanged.”

“It is Taiwan’s decision to make these transits based on their own travel. Transits are not visits. They are private, and they’re unofficial. I would also remind everyone that this is not the — this is not new.  Every Taiwan president has transited the United States.  President Tsai Ing-wen herself has transited the U.S. six times since taking office in 2016, each time without incident.

“In all previous transits, she met with members of Congress, as well as state and local officials, and had public appearances.  She has also transited through both New York and Los Angeles before. Not uncommon.

“The People’s Republic of China should not use this transit as a pretext to step up any aggressive activity around the Taiwan Strait.  The United States and China have differences when it comes to Taiwan, but we have managed those differences for more than 40 years.

“President Biden and this administration has been keeping the lines of communication open with Beijing. We want to see that continue on this issue and other issues across the board. And we’ll continue to strive to do that.”

U.S. relations with China turned especially frosty after the Biden administration allowed a Chinese spy balloon to drift across the entire continental United States in February, then shot it down off the coast of South Carolina.

In a February 16 speech addressing concerns about Chinese intrusions, President Biden said, “This episode underscores the importance of maintaining open lines of communication between our diplomats and our military professionals.

“Our diplomats will be engaging further, and I will remain in communication with President Xi…And I expect to be speaking with President Xi, and I hope we have a — we are going to get to the bottom of this.”

But in response to repeated questions about the timing of Biden-Xi phone call, the White House keeps giving the same answer, as Kirby did on Wednesday.

“The President still wants to keep those lines of communication open,” Kirby said: “And he has said himself that he looks forward to having another conversation with President Xi. And that will happen. It will happen at the appropriate time. And, of course, when it does, we’ll — we’ll let you all know.”


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