NEW YORK - The United States said Thursday that reprisals by China over a visit by Taiwan's president would not alter US policy, insisting that such stops are nothing new.
China has warned the United States that it is "playing with fire" over the trip by President Tsai Ing-wen, who is in New York on what is officially a transit stopover on her way to Latin America.
She is expected to stop in California on her way back and meet House Speaker Kevin McCarthy.
China in August carried out major military exercises around Taiwan, a self-governing democracy it claims, after a visit by McCarthy's predecessor Nancy Pelosi.
"Unilateral attempts to change the status quo will not pressure the United States government to alter our longstanding practice to facilitate transits through the United States," said Daniel Kritenbrink, the top US diplomat for East Asia.
"There is absolutely no reason for China to overreact to this longstanding, routine practice," Kritenbrink told reporters in Washington.
He said that the United States is committed to recognizing only Beijing and said that Tsai has transited through the United States six times previously "without incident."
McCarthy, a Republican, had earlier vowed to follow the Democrat Pelosi by traveling to Taiwan. The meeting in his home state of California had been viewed as a middle ground that would avoid inflaming tensions with China.
But Xu Xueyuan, the charge d'affaires of China's embassy to Washington, told reporters Wednesday that the United States risked "serious confrontation" no matter whether US leaders visited Taiwan or the reverse.
"The US keeps saying that transit is not a visit and that there are precedents, but we should not use past mistakes as excuses for repeating them today," she said.
After arriving in New York, Tsai was greeted by flag-waving Taiwanese expatriates as she addressed a banquet Wednesday evening.
"We have demonstrated a firm will and resolve to defend ourselves, that we are capable of managing risks with calm and composure and that we have the ability to maintain regional peace and stability," Tsai told the dinner.
Laura Rosenberger, who heads the American Institute in Taiwan, the de facto embassy in the absence of diplomatic relations, welcomed Tsai to New York but the State Department said that it did not expect officials to meet her.