US Senator Ted Cruz and Texas Governor Greg Abbott met with Taiwan’s leader Tsai Ing-wen in Houston on Sunday, taking an initiative that is bound to stoke the ire of Beijing.
Cruz and Abbott met Tsai as the latter made a stopover in the Texas city on her way to visit allies in Central America, Reuters reports.
Cruz, who represents Texas, said some members of Congress had received a letter from the Chinese consulate asking them not to meet with Tsai during her stopovers.
“The People’s Republic of China needs to understand that in America we make decisions about meeting with visitors for ourselves,” Cruz said in a statement.
“This is not about the PRC. This is about the US relationship with Taiwan, an ally we are legally bound to defend.”
Tsai scheduled stopovers in San Francisco and Houston on her way to visit Central American allies such as Honduras, Nicaragua, Guatemala and El Salvador.
Beijing had urged the United States not to let her into the country.
Cruz said he and Tsai discussed upgrading bilateral relations and furthering economic cooperation between the US and Taiwan.
Abbott said in a Twitter post that he also met with Tsai on Sunday and that they discussed “expanding trade and economic opportunities”.
It is not unusual for US lawmakers to meet with Taiwanese leaders when they pass through the country.
However, tensions are high this winter after President-elect Donald Trump, who like Cruz and Abbott is a Republican, spoke to Tsai last month.
The telephone conversation broke with decades of precedent and cast doubt whether the incoming US administration will remain committed to the long-standing “One China” policy.
– Contact us at [email protected]