US Senator Ted Cruz meets Taiwan’s Tsai in Texas and fires a broadside at Beijing

PUBLISHED : Monday, 09 January, 2017, 9:10am
UPDATED : Monday, 09 January, 2017, 9:13am

Texas senator Ted Cruz and governor Greg Abbott said they met Taiwan president Tsai Ing-wen on Sunday, while she was passing through Texas on her way to diplomatic stops in Central America.

Cruz said China’s consulate had asked, in “a curious letter”, that the Houston congressional delegation “uphold the ‘One-China policy’” and not meet the Taiwanese leader.

In December, US president-elect Donald Trump spoke with Tsai by phone, breaking decades of US precedent in relations with China. Cruz, a Republican who endorsed Trump after losing to him in the presidential primary, had previously defended Trump’s call.

“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 on Sunday.

Taiwan’s ‘wise’ Tsai makes low-key US stop, ‘reduces risk of riling Beijing’

“This is not about the PRC. This is about the US relationship with Taiwan, an ally we are legally bound to defend. The Chinese do not give us veto power over those with whom they meet. We will continue to meet with anyone, including the Taiwanese, as we see fit.”

Cruz added that he and Tsai discussed “arms sales, diplomatic exchanges and economic relations”, and that he hoped to increase trade between Texas and Taiwanese markets.

In a separate statement , Abbott said he and Tsai discussed agriculture and gas trade, and exchanged gifts. Tsai received “a clock bearing the Texas State Seal”, Abbott said, and the governor received a vase.

Abbott said the issues discussed were energy, trade relations and commercial ties between Taiwan and Texas.

American lawmakers often meet Taiwanese presidents when they pass through the US, despite tensions between federal officials. Tsai incurred China’s anger over her refusal to endorse Beijing’s policy that the mainland and Taiwan constitute a single Chinese nation.

Beijing lodged a complaint with the US over Trump’s call with Tsai, the first between American and Taiwanese leaders since ties were cut in 1979 at China’s request. Barack Obama’s White House reassured China, but Trump continued to threaten exacerbating tensions with Beijing.

Not long after his 10-minute conversation with Tsai, the president-elect went on a tirade against China on Twitter.

He wrote: “Did China ask us if it was OK to devalue their currency (making it hard for our companies to compete), heavily tax our products going into their country (the US doesn’t tax them) or to build a massive military complex in the middle of the South China Sea? I don’t think so!”

He then accused China of stealing an underwater drone that it seized in contested waters, calling it an “unpresidented [sic] act” .

“We should tell China that we don’t want the drone they stole back,” he wrote. “Let them keep it!”