The Chinese government has slammed Washington for engaging with Taipei and ordered the Trump administration to cease diplomatic engagements with the island, after a highly unusual public meeting between top officials from the US and Taiwan.
In May, US national security adviser John Bolton met with one of Taiwan’s top defense officials, National Security Council Secretary-General David Lee, who was visiting the US. Taiwan’s official news agency CNA said it was the first meeting between the top security advisers of both governments since 1979, when Washington severed formal ties with Taipei.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said Monday that Beijing “deplored and strongly objected” to the meeting and urged the US to stop “having official exchanges or upgrading substantive relations with Taiwan.”
Taiwan and China were separated at the end of a bloody civil war in 1949 and officially the US only has official diplomatic relations with Beijing.
“The one-China principle is the political basis for China-US relations,” Lu said. “We are firmly against the US engaging in any official contact with Taiwan in whatever form and under whatever pretext.
“We also stand resolutely against any attempt to create ‘two Chinas’ or ‘one China, one Taiwan.’ This is our clear and consistent position.”
As the China and US engage in a tense trade war, however, Washington has been building closer ties with Taiwan, the island that China views as a renegade province.
On Saturday, Taiwan announced it had renamed its unofficial embassy in Washington from the Coordination Council for North American Affairs to the Taiwan Council for US Affairs, after discussions with Washington. That marked the first time a Taiwan government organization had been renamed to include the words “Taiwan” and “US.”
“Really got to love the new name,” Taiwan Foreign Minister Joseph Wu said on the ministry’s official Twitter.
And in March, Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen announced she wanted to purchase advanced new weapons from US President Donald Trump’s administration.
Beijing’s comments came as Taiwan began its annual Han Kuang Exercise on Tuesday. The military drills are aimed at ensuring the island’s readiness for an invasion by communist China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA).
President Tsai watched as the air force landed F-16V aircraft on a highway in eastern Changhua county, an exercise designed to test the military’s refueling and rearming capacity if major airfields on the island were occupied or destroyed by the PLA.
Hundreds of Taiwanese flocked to the roadside to watch the drill, waving flags and displaying banners showing their support for the island’s airforce.
When asked about the future of US-Taiwan defense relations — and whether the Bolton meeting was the new normal — Taiwan military spokesman Maj. Gen. Chen Chung-Chi said the two governments would continue to work together.
“In the Asia Pacific region, we are just like the US, who share common core values including freedom of democracy and human rights (with),” he said.
“We also hope that we can play the role of defender of peace in the region. This is to serve the common interests of Taiwan and the US.”
By Ben Westcott