China upset about "negative" Taiwan content in U.S. defense bill

© Reuters. Soldiers drive their military vehicles past Taiwan flags during an army exercise in Hsinchu© Reuters. Soldiers drive their military vehicles past Taiwan flags during an army exercise in Hsinchu

BEIJING (Reuters) – China said on Monday it had lodged a stern complaint with the United States after the U.S. House of Representatives passed its version of a big annual defense bill that would expand exchanges with self-ruled Taiwan.

China considers democratic Taiwan to be a wayward province and has never renounced the use of force to bring the island under its control.

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.

The National Defense Authorization 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 U.S. and Taiwan militaries, he said.

“We urge the United States to fully recognize 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-U.S. cooperation.”

China regularly calls Taiwan the most sensitive and important issue between it and the United States.

China urged the United States last month to revoke immediately its “wrong decision” to sell Taiwan $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.

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