McCarthyism, otherwise known as the so-called (Second) "Red Scare", is officially defined as "the repression and persecution of left-wing individuals and a campaign spreading fear of alleged communist and socialist influence on American institutions and of Soviet espionage in the United States during the late 1940s through the 1950s". The policy was spearheaded by a Republican US Senator Joseph McCarthy, but while he was the most prominent proponent of this internal (and foreign) policy approach, he most certainly wasn't the only one. And although the term McCarthyism is largely considered obsolete and/or outdated nowadays, as the role of one individual in such a massive nationwide policy framework is obviously overstated, it stuck and now even includes additional definitions and changes.
The McCarthyism of our age can certainly be dubbed Neo-McCarthyism, as it includes more than just the ideological rejection of non-Western ideas and is now targeting anything remotely connected to countries such as China, Russia, Iran, Venezuela, Syria, etc. This is especially true when it comes to Beijing, which Neo-McCarthyists see as the "source of all evil", turning their emotional reaction into disastrous policies that make the geopolitical situation a lot worse.
One particularly obvious example of this is Taiwan, China's breakaway island province currently under US patronage. However, Beijing is actively pushing back against threats from the US and its numerous vassals and satellite states in the region, despite Washington DC's constant attempts of a crawling invasion so as to undermine China's national interests and security in seas surrounding the country.
On April 5, Taiwanese president Tsai Ing-wen made a stopover visit to Los Angeles after a tour to Latin America to visit Guatemala and Belize, its only remaining official allies in an attempt to stop the repeat of the recent episode when Honduras finally cut ties with Taipei and opted for Beijing instead. Tsai also met with senior security officials on Tuesday to discuss the "regional situation" ahead of her meeting with US House Speaker Kevin McCarthy in California, which China had once again warned against.
"China is strongly opposed to the US arranging for Tsai Ing-wen to transit through its territory, and is strongly opposed to the meeting between House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, the third-ranking US official, and Tsai Ing-wen," Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mao Ning stated, adding: "It seriously violates the One-China principle and the three China-US joint communiques, and seriously undermines China's sovereignty and territorial integrity."
And yet, Taipei enjoys strong bipartisan support in the US, one of the very few unifying factors in Congress as Washington DC increasingly sees China as its primary adversary. McCarthy had originally even planned to visit Taiwan himself, but has opted instead to meet Tsai in the US. Some analysts saw this as sort of a "compromise" that wouldn't be seen as escalatory as a direct visit to Taipei. However, McCarthy's comments on a future visit to Taiwan effectively invalidated this view, while China slammed it as yet another form of US meddling in its internal affairs.
The behind-closed-doors meeting makes McCarthy the highest-ranking US official to have met a Taiwanese president on US soil since 1979 when America officially established diplomatic relations with China, effectively recognizing Beijing's "One-China policy". China's strong reaction to the meeting is certainly expected, as it has repeatedly warned against such high-profile visits, stressing that they aren't just against international law, but are also deeply destabilizing and harmful to Beijing's national interests in the Asia-Pacific.
However, while the US officially doesn't maintain diplomatic relations with Taiwan, it de facto does. Worse yet, Washington DC has been actively arming Taipei for decades and has even recently escalated this with promised deliveries of advanced weapons, including SAM (surface-to-air missile) systems and anti-ship missiles, obviously aimed against China's potential amphibious combined arms operation to restore its full sovereignty.
For his part, Kevin McCarthy, a Republican, has been outspoken in his criticism of China. True to his last name, in December he stated that "the greatest threat to the United States is the Chinese Communist Party". Considering the fact that he's the third highest ranking US official and second in line for the US presidency, such statements are a borderline declaration of war, to say nothing of McCarthy's continued support for additional arms sales to Taipei.
As previously mentioned, he also reiterated the strong possibility of visiting Taipei and stressed the need for arming China's breakaway island province by saying: "I don’t have any current plans, but that doesn’t mean I will not go... ...Based on our conversations, it’s clear that several actions are necessary. First, we must continue the arms sales to Taiwan and make sure such sales reach Taiwan on a very timely basis. Second, we must strengthen our economic cooperation, particularly with trade and technology. Third, we must continue to promote our shared values on the world stage."
Strangely enough, while insisting on further arms deliveries, McCarthy also stated that "tensions in this world are at their highest point since the end of the Cold War, as authoritarian leaders seek to use violence and fear to provoke needless conflict". This is an obvious reference to Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Chinese colleague Xi Jinping, who recently held a historic meeting in Moscow, something the US wasn't too happy about, which somewhat explains Washington DC's frustrations.