US And China At Odds Over Taiwan Again As Trump Signs National Defense Bill Into Law

U.S. Navy/Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Kenneth Abbate/via REUTERS

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Ryan Pickrell China/Asia Pacific Reporter
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China is fuming and even threatening war over a provision in new U.S. defense legislation that makes possible U.S. naval visits to Taiwan.

President Donald Trump signed the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2018 Tuesday, which includes an act that authorizes possible port calls by U.S. Navy warships in Taiwan and vice versa. Beijing has lodged a formal complaint with the Trump administration and accused America of interfering in Chinese affairs, Reuters reports.

Beijing warned the U.S. against unncessarily undermining the U.S.-China relationship. “China firmly opposes any official exchanges and military contacts between the United States and Taiwan and opposes U.S. arms sales to Taiwan,” Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Lu Kang said Thursday.

A senior Chinese diplomat in the U.S. threatened war over the new legislation prior to Trump’s signing. “The day that a U.S. Navy vessel arrives in Kaohsiung, is the day that our People’s Liberation Army unites Taiwan with military force,” Li Kexin, the minister at the Chinese Embassy in Washington, said at an embassy event last Friday.

The senior official’s “words have sent a warning to Taiwan and drew a clear red line,” China’s nationalist tabloid Global Times asserted Monday. Back in October, China directly threatened Congress, warning that the U.S. legislation represents a “provocation against China’s sovereignty, national unity and security interests” and will be met with “severe consequences.”

People’s Liberation Army Air Force H-6K bombers and Su-30 and J-11 fighters accompanied by reconnaissance and early warning aircraft and tankers carried out “island encirclement patrols” around Taiwan Monday, the state-run People’s Daily revealed. The patrol marked the ninth such drill since December last year, when Taiwan took center stage after Trump accepted a phone call from Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen and cast doubt and uncertainty over the future of the “One China” policy.

“Multiple bombers and reconnaissance planes have flown routes that circled the island of Taiwan, further improving their ability to protect national sovereignty and territorial integrity,” PLAAF spokesman Senior Colonel Shen Jinke revealed, according to Chinese media.

Taiwan has been keeping a close eye on the situation, particularly Chinese behavior.

“Such a raised military posture that may impact upon and harm regional peace and stability and cross-strait ties does not give a feeling of responsibility, and the international community does not look favorably upon this,” Taiwan presidential spokesman Alex Huang explained to Reuters.

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