The Chinese Foreign Ministry and the nation’s state-run media have condemned Congress’s approval of new high-level military talks between the United States and Taiwan. The rebuke follows a month of vocal dismay in Beijing over President-elect Donald Trump’s questioning of the “One China” policy, which denies Taiwan’s sovereignty.
“We are firmly against the Taiwan-related contents in the US act and have lodged solemn representations with the US. We are strongly discontent with the US for signing this act,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told reporters Monday, in response to a question about the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).
“We urge the US side to honor its commitment on the Taiwan question, put an end to military exchanges with and arms sales to Taiwan and avoid undermining China-US relations or cross-Straits peace and stability,” Hua added. The spokeswoman concluded with the boilerplate Beijing response to those who question its recognition of Taiwan only as a breakaway province, not a self-governing island: “there is only one China in the world, the government of the People’s Republic of China is the only legitimate government representing China, and Taiwan is an integrated part of the Chinese territory.”
The NDAA is mandatory appropriations legislation that funds the nation’s defense and national security, renewed every year. This year’s $618.7 billion in appropriations also suggests “a program of senior military exchanges between the United States and Taiwan,” according to Reuters. The bill also increases the number of active Army troops to 476,000 and allowing for “research, development, test and evaluation” of missile defense systems in space.
The Chinese state-run publication Global Times calls it “a breakthrough in upgrading the level of military exchanges since 1979 when the US ended its diplomatic relations with Taiwan.” The newspaper, often among the most militaristic of the Communist Party’s outlets, warns that such a move would “dampen Beijing’s faith in a peaceful resolution of the Taiwan question, thus prompting a serious consideration of military action.”
The Times goes on to warn President-elect Trump specifically: “If the Trump administration opts t0 engage in a geopolitical friction with China over the Straits, Beijing has the edge – stronger military control and resolution – and would win over Washington.”
The Global Times has previously predicted that “war is inevitable” between the United States and China.
The Taiwanese government expressed the contrary sentiment to Beijing. “The ministry also appreciates the US Congress’ continued endeavors to strengthen Taipei-Washington ties, and to encourage bilateral military cooperation and exchanges,” Taiwanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokeswoman Eleanor Wang said.
Taiwanese president Tsai Ing-wen of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) won her election on a largely pro-independence, anti-Communist ticket, and has alarmed China by making diplomatic gestures towards the United States, seeking the acknowledgment of her nation’s sovereignty. Washington has long adhered to “One China,” rejecting the anti-Communist movements of Taiwan, Tibet, and Hong Kong, among other regions who seek separation from Beijing.
Most recently, President Tsai called Trump to congratulate him on his election victory, and the two reportedly had a short, cordial conversation. Following the call, Trump told Fox News, “I don’t know why we have to be bound by a ‘one China’ policy unless we make a deal with China having to do with other things, including trade.”
The Global Times responded by calling for the development of more, stronger nuclear weapons as a deterrent to abandoning “One China.” Following the news of Tsai visiting Latin America, with a quick stop in America, next month, the Times called her tenure “a period of chaos of Taiwan” and declared she and her party have “no mandate to rule the island with Taiwan-independence thinking.”
“The mainland public is fed up with appeasing Taiwan endlessly and is ready to smash independent forces,” the Times protested.
This week, China deployed its only aircraft carrier, the CNS Liaoning, and an accompanying fleet to the South China Sea, where China is currently engaged in territorial disputes with Taiwan, Brunei, the Philippines, Malaysia, Vietnam, and Indonesia. “The carrier performed drills with destroyers and frigates, with scenarios including reconnaissance, aircraft interception, sea strikes and missile defense. Multiple groups of J-15s fired missiles at designated targets,” according to a Chinese Navy statement.
“Staying vigilant and flexible has always been the normal method of maintaining airspace security,” ministry spokesman Chen Chung-chi explained.