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6 Apr, 2023 07:34

China identifies ‘first red line’ in US relations

Beijing has demanded that Washington stops all contacts with Taipei “at once”
China identifies ‘first red line’ in US relations

The Taiwan issue is the “first red line” that should not be crossed in relations between China and the US, Beijing has told Washington.

The warning from the Chinese Foreign Ministry came early on Thursday, hours after Taiwanese leader Tsai Ing-wen met with US House Speaker Kevin McCarthy and other lawmakers in California.

“China firmly opposes and strongly condemns” the high-profile meeting that took place on American soil, the ministry said in a statement. “It seriously infringes upon China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and sends an egregiously wrong signal to the ‘Taiwan independence’ separatist forces,” it added.

Beijing will take “strong and resolute measures” in response to “egregiously wrong action” taken by Washington and Taipei, the ministry warned.

“The Taiwan question is at the core of China’s core interests and the first red line that must not be crossed in China-US relations,” the statement read.

According to Beijing, an independent Taipei and stability in the Taiwan Strait were as “irreconcilable as fire and water.”

The Chinese Foreign Ministry urged the US “not go further down the wrong and dangerous path” of trying to use the Taiwan issue to “contain” China. Washington should adhere to the One-China principle and “stop at once any form of official exchanges with Taiwan,” it said.

Taiwan has been self-governed since 1949, but never officially declared independence from China. Beijing, which considers the island to be a part of its territory, strongly opposes its contacts with the US.

Despite officially recognizing Beijing as the sole legitimate authority in China since 1979, Washington maintains strong unofficial ties with Taipei, supporting its push for sovereignty and promising to defend the island militarily in the event of an attack from the mainland.

“We’re stronger when we are together,” Tsai told McCarthy during their meeting on Wednesday. The Taiwanese leader said she was grateful to the US for helping with “efforts to protect our way of life.”

McCarthy said “friendship between the people of Taiwan and America is a matter of profound importance to the free world. It is critical to maintain economic freedom, peace and regional stability.”

It’s the second time that Tsai has met a US House speaker in less than a year. A visit by McCarthy’s predecessor, Democrat Nancy Pelosi, to Taiwan last August caused a major spike in tensions between Beijing and Washington as China launched its largest-ever military drills in the Taiwan Strait and slapped sanctions on Taipei.