China protests US defence Bill calling for more military exchanges with Taiwan

Taiwan Navy personnel prepare to perform during a Naval exhibition drill in Kaohsiung City, Southern Taiwan, on July 13, 2017.
Taiwan Navy personnel prepare to perform during a Naval exhibition drill in Kaohsiung City, Southern Taiwan, on July 13, 2017. PHOTO: EPA

BEIJING (Reuters) - China said on Monday (July 17) it had lodged a stern complaint with the United States after the US House of Representatives passed its version of a big annual defence Bill that would expand exchanges with self-ruled Taiwan.

The National Defence Authorisation Act (NDAA), passed by the House on Friday, also proposes expanding training and exercises with Taiwan.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang said "negative content" related to Taiwan went seriously against the "one China" principle and was an interference in China's internal affairs.

"China has already lodged stern representations with the United States about this," Lu told a daily news briefing.

China resolutely opposes any form of official contacts between the US and Taiwan militaries, he said. "We urge the United States to fully recognise the serious harmfulness of the relevant clauses in the act, and should not allow then into law, and not turn back the wheel of history to avoid damaging the broad picture of Sino-US cooperation."

China considers democratic Taiwan to be a wayward province and has never renounced the use of force to bring the island under its control. Beijing regularly calls Taiwan the most sensitive and important issue between China and the United States.

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 urged the United States last month to revoke immediately its "wrong decision" to sell Taiwan US$1.42 billion worth of arms, saying it contradicted a "consensus" President Xi Jinping reached with his counterpart, Donald Trump, in talks in April in Florida.

Beijing's relationship with Taiwan has been frosty since President Tsai Ing-wen won election on the island by a landslide last year.

China suspects that Tsai, who leads the independence-leaning Democratic Progressive Party, wants to declare the island's formal independence, a red line for Beijing.

Tsai says she wants to maintain peace with China.