Texas Republicans Meet With Taiwan President Over China's Objection

by | January 9, 2017

By Ben Brody

Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen met Sunday in Houston with Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, adding to tensions with China after President-elect Donald Trump broke diplomatic protocol by talking to her on the phone.

Cruz, one of Trump's strongest challengers for last year's Republican presidential nomination, said in a statement that he and Tsai "discussed our mutual opportunity to upgrade the stature of our bilateral relations in a wide-ranging discussion that addressed arms sales, diplomatic exchanges, and economic relations." Abbott, also a Republican, posted a photo of his meeting on Twitter, and said saying the meeting was to "discuss expanding trade and economic opportunities."

Texas has the second-largest U.S. economy behind California. Tsai's office earlier announced that she would stay for one night in Houston on her way to visitto several nations in Central America. She will also stop in San Francisco Jan. 13 on the way back to Taiwan. China had urged the U.S. to bar her from the country; Cruz said the Chinese consulate asked members of Congress to refuse to meet with Tsai and to uphold the long-standing policy "One China" policy.

Trump's call with Tsai after his November election victory  angered China and threatened to disrupt the U.S.'s decades-long recognition of the island as a part of China. Neither Trump nor members of his transition team are meeting with Tsai during her U.S. visit, news media reported Saturday.

"We will continue to meet with anyone, including the Taiwanese, as we see fit," Cruz said.

Since Trump's call, which was the highest-level interaction between leaders of the two governments in decades, China's government in Beijing has increased pressure on Taiwan, setting up diplomatic relations with one of Taiwan's former allies and sailing an aircraft carrier around the island. Trump later linked the U.S.'s policy on Taiwan to getting a better trade deal with China.

Cruz also said that "furthering economic cooperation between our two nations must be a priority."

(c)2017 Bloomberg News