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China says U.S.-North Korea summit offers no lesson for Taiwan ties

BEIJING (Reuters) - A warming of ties between the United States and North Korea does not mean China will reach out to Taiwan for a similar summit, the Chinese government said on Wednesday.

A double rainbow is seen behind Taiwanese flag during the National Day celebrations in Taipei, Taiwan, October 10, 2017. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu

Singapore, the site of this week’s historic summit between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, is also where Chinese President Xi Jinping held a landmark meeting with Taiwan’s then president Ma Ying-jeou in 2015.

But relations between China and Taiwan, which China claims as its sacred territory, have worsened since.

China’s hostility has risen after the self-ruled island elected Tsai Ing-wen as president in 2016. China says Tsai, who leads the pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party, has refused to recognise its “one China” principle.

Tsai says she wants to maintain the status quo but will not be bullied by China and will defend Taiwan and its democracy.

Ma Xiaoguang, spokesman for China’s Taiwan Affairs Office, dismissed the suggestion that the Trump-Kim summit could lead to a similar thawing between China and Taiwan.

“The Taiwan issue is purely an internal Chinese affair. Its nature is entirely different to North Korea-U.S. relations,” Ma told a regular news briefing in response to a question.

“Taiwan and the mainland both belong to one China, and relations across the Taiwan Strait are not state-to-state ties.”

The 2015 Xi-Ma summit was held on the political basis of opposing Taiwan independence and showed both sides of the Taiwan Strait had the ability and wisdom to resolve their own problems, Ma said, adding that any improvement in ties depended on Taiwan’s ruling party.

Taiwan is China’s most sensitive territorial issue and a potentially dangerous military flashpoint. China has ramped up its military presence around Taiwan in the past year, including flying bomber jets around the island.

Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Clarence Fernandez