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23 Feb, 2024 05:43

China reacts to US visit to Taiwan

An American delegation led by a major critic of Beijing traveled to the island to reiterate US support
China reacts to US visit to Taiwan

China has urged the United States to cease all “interference” in Taiwan’s affairs after a group of US lawmakers met with local leader Tsai Ing-wen.

Asked about the visit by five American representatives on Thursday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Mao Ning urged Washington to consider the “extreme complexity and sensitivity of the Taiwan question.”

“China opposes any form of official interaction between the US and Taiwan authorities and rejects US interference in Taiwan affairs in whatever form or under whatever pretext,” she said, calling on American officials and legislators to “stop official contact with Taiwan and stop sending any wrong signal to the separatist forces for ‘Taiwan independence.’”

The delegation led by Republican Congressman Mike Gallagher – a major Beijing hawk and the chair of the House select committee on China – sat down with Tsai and other senior officials later on Thursday, with further meetings planned over the weekend.

”The United States, Democrats and Republicans, stands with Taiwan, for your freedom and for ours,” Gallagher said at a news conference. Tsai responded that Taipei would “continue to advance our international partnerships and engage with the world.”

The lawmakers’ visit came as tensions soared between the island and Beijing. Last week, a Taiwanese coast guard vessel pursued a speedboat belonging to a pair of mainland fishermen, who were accused of trespassing. The smaller boat capsized during the chase and both men died by drowning, with Chinese officials saying Taiwan had used “violent and dangerous methods.”

Beijing views self-governing Taiwan as part of China’s sovereign territory and has repeatedly warned against any attempt to formally declare independence. Though the island has governed itself since 1949, the vast majority of countries, including the US, do not recognize it as an independent state.

Washington has, however, maintained informal diplomatic and security relations with Taipei, and has approved a flurry of military sales worth billions in recent years, repeatedly drawing China’s ire. Earlier this week, the US State Department approved a deal for $75 million in advanced communications and logistics gear, prompting a negative reaction.

The proposed transfer threatens to “undermine China’s sovereignty and security interests,” and would “harm China-US relations and peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait,” Ming told reporters.

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