China Protests US Bill Promoting Travel Between US, Taiwan

China on Thursday told the United States it is “strongly dissatisfied” with legislation awaiting President Donald Trump’s signature that would promote closer business ties between the United States and Taiwan.

The U.S. Senate approved the Taiwan Travel Act Wednesday by unanimous consent, following a similar move by the House of Representatives in January.

The legislation calls for officials “at all levels” to travel to and from the United States and self-governing Taiwan and meet with their respective counterparts, plus encourages Taiwanese economic and cultural representatives to conduct business in the United States.

Beijing considers Taiwan as one of its territories. The United States cut its formal diplomatic ties with Taiwan in 1979, recognizing the communist rulers in Beijing as the country’s sole government as part of a “One China” policy.

China lodged a diplomatic protest with Washington over passage of the legislation ahead of Trump’s likely approval. Foreign Ministry spokesman Hua Chunying told reporters in Beijing that bill “seriously violates” the “One China” policy that maintains that Taiwan is a part of China.

“China is strongly dissatisfied and firmly opposes it,” Hua said.

She urged Washington to cease all official exchanges with Taipei and “prudently” handle issues related to Taiwan “to avoid seriously interfering with and damaging China-U.S. relations.”

But Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen praised the bill’s final passage in a tweet posted late Wednesday, saying it “symbolizes the #US Congress’ longstanding support for #Taiwan.”

“The Taiwan-U.S. partnership is a key pillar of peace & stability for the Indo-Pacific region,” she added.

Tensions between Beijing and Taipei have grown since Tsai, the leader of the island’s independence-leading Democratic Progressive Party, was elected president in 2016.

Trump provoked China shortly after his 2016 election by accepting a congratulatory phone call from Tsai, but later vowed to uphold the “One China” policy. Trump has often praised Chinese President Xi Jinping, but last summer approved a $1.3 billion arms sale to Taiwan.

China and Taiwan have been separately ruled since the Chinese civil war in the 1940s, when the Nationalists fled to Taiwan after their defeat by Mao Zedong’s Communist forces. China insists on eventual unification of the two sides, by use of force if needed.

Source: Voice of America