Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and Gov. Greg Abbott said they met Sunday with Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen while she was passing through Houston on her way to Central America.
The Republican senator said in a news release that during his meeting with Tsai, they “discussed our mutual opportunity to upgrade the stature of our bilateral relations” in a talk that addressed arms sales, diplomatic exchanges and economic relations.
“Furthering economic cooperation between our two nations must be a priority; increased access to Taiwanese markets will benefit Texas farmers, ranchers and small business owners alike,” he said.
A news release from Abbott, also a Republican, said he and Tsai discussed energy, trade relations and commercial ties between Taiwan and Texas. He said they talked about “how our two economies can expand upon our already prosperous trade partnership.”
An official with Republican President elect-Donald Trump’s transition team has said neither Trump nor transition officials would be meeting with Tsai. Her stop in the U.S. was scrutinized by Beijing for any signs that Trump’s team would risk its ire by further engaging with the self-ruled island that China considers its territory.
Beijing officials complained after Trump last month breached diplomatic protocol by speaking by phone with the Taiwanese leader. Trump raised further concerns in Beijing when he questioned a U.S. policy that since 1979 has recognized Beijing as China’s government and maintains only unofficial relations with Taiwan.
U.S. lawmakers often meet with Taiwanese presidents when they transit through the U.S.
Tsai, who departed Taipei on Saturday, pledged to bolster Taiwan’s international profile as she set off on the trip to reinforce relations with diplomatic allies in Central America.
Cruz said in his news release that shortly before his meeting with Tsai, the Houston congressional delegation had gotten a “curious” letter from the Chinese consulate asking members of Congress not to meet with Tsai.
Cruz said China “needs to understand that in America we make decisions about meeting with visitors for ourselves.”