Beijing lodges protest over Taiwan content in US defence Bill

BEIJING • China has lodged "stern representations" with the United States after President Barack Obama signed into law a US defence policy Bill that suggests a plan to conduct high-level military exchanges with self-ruled Taiwan.

Part of the US$618.7 billion (S$895 billion) National Defence Authorisation Act "expresses the sense of Congress that (the US Department of Defence) should conduct a programme of senior military exchanges between the United States and Taiwan".

In a statement late on Sunday, China's Foreign Ministry said it had lodged a protest with the US over the Taiwan content of the Act and expressed its strong opposition.

Taiwan is Chinese territory and purely an internal matter, said the ministry.

It noted that the part of the defence policy Bill referring to Taiwan was not legally binding and said it was an interference with China's internal affairs that China could not accept. "We urge the US side to abide by its promises made to China on the Taiwan issue, stop US-Taiwan military contact and arms sales to Taiwan, to avoid damaging Sino-US ties and peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait."

China was upset earlier this month after US President-elect Donald Trump talked by telephone with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen.

The phone call is the first in 40 years between a Taiwanese leader and an American president-elect.

Mr Trump has also questioned the "one China" policy which the US has followed since establishing relations with Beijing in 1979, under which the US acknowledges the Chinese position that Taiwan is part of China.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 27, 2016, with the headline 'Beijing lodges protest over Taiwan content in US defence Bill'. Print Edition | Subscribe