Taiwan's president is on a tour of the United States and Central America, hoping to demonstrate that her self-ruled island has allies as it confronts a rising threat from China.
Taiwan was carefully calibrating President Tsai Ing-wen's stops in the United States, avoiding any formal meetings with key US leaders in Washington, in an attempt to contain what China said would be a strong but unspecified response.
Tsai arrived in New York on Wednesday and was slated to spend Thursday there, but little information about the trip was made public.
Tsai and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy are likely to meet elsewhere in the country, according to Xu Xueyan, a senior Chinese diplomat in Washington. The meeting would have "serious, serious, serious" consequences for US-China ties, she said in a virtual session with reporters on Wednesday.
Senator Robert Menendez, a Democrat from New Jersey and chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee said he hopes any US officials meeting with the president unofficially convey that America's support for Taiwan is "strong and unequivocal."
Taiwan is a key Indo-Pacific partner for Washington and a significant recipient of US military aid. The United States, Taiwan, and their regional allies are increasing their military preparedness to deter or defend against any future military action by China, which claims the island as its own.
Last August, Beijing reacted to then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's visit to Taiwan by launching missiles, deploying warships across the Taiwan Strait's median line, and simulating a blockade of the island. China also temporarily halted dialogue with the United States on climate and other important problems, as well as restricted military-to-military communication with the Pentagon.
Tsai has visited the United States six times during her presidency, meeting with members of Congress and people of the Taiwanese diaspora. Administration officials are emphasising that her upcoming journey, dubbed a "transit" in Taiwan, is consistent with what she and her predecessors have done in the past.
Tsai's "transit is consistent with our long-standing unofficial relationship with Taiwan and with the United States' one-China policy, which remains unchanged," White House national security spokesman John Kirby said Wednesday.