February 9, 2018 / 9:09 AM / 4 months ago

China says U.S. bill on Taiwan ties threatens stability

BEIJING (Reuters) - A U.S. bill that encourages reciprocal visits by U.S. and Taiwanese government officials threatens stability in the Taiwan Strait and the United States must withdraw it, China’s Foreign Ministry said on Friday.

FILE PHOTO - A demonstrator holds flags of Taiwan and the United States in support of Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen during an stop-over after her visit to Latin America in Burlingame, California, U.S., January 14, 2017. REUTERS/Stephen Lam

The bill passed the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations this week and will now move to the Senate.

Beijing considers democratic Taiwan to be a wayward province and integral part of “one China”, ineligible for state-to-state relations, and has never renounced the use of force to bring the island under its control.

The United States has no formal ties with Taiwan but is bound by law to help it defend itself and is the island’s main source of arms. China regularly says Taiwan is the most sensitive issue in its ties with Washington.

Speaking at a daily news briefing in Beijing, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said though the clauses in the bill are not legally binding they are a serious violation of the “one China” principle.

“If it is passed and put into effect, it will cause serious disturbances to Sino-U.S. relations and the situation in the Taiwan Strait,” Geng said.

“China is extremely dissatisfied and resolutely opposed to this and has already lodged stern representations with the U.S. side,” he added.

“The ‘One China’ principle is the political basis of Sino-U.S. relations.”

The United States should stick to its promises made to China about Taiwan, cease discussion of this bill and protect relations between the two countries and stability in the Taiwan Strait, Geng said.

Taiwan has welcomed the bill, which would allow senior U.S. government officials to travel to Taiwan to meet with their Taiwanese counterparts.

The passage of the bill by the committee shows the strong bipartisan support to deepen two-way exchanges and interactions of officials from both sides, Taiwan’s foreign ministry said in a statement.

“The Foreign Ministry expresses its welcome and its thanks,” it said.

China has become increasingly hostile to Taiwan since the election as president of Tsai Ing-wen from the pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party in 2016.

China suspects Tsai wants to push for formal independence, a red line for Communist Party leaders in Beijing, though she has said she wants to maintain the status quo and is committed to ensuring peace.

Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Additional reporting by Jess Macy Yu in TAIPEI; Editing by Nick Macfie

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