Tuesday, May 21, 2019
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US reassures Taiwan on security as China increases threats

In response, China warns Taipei against 'colluding with foreign forces' to disrupt stability in the Taiwan Strait.

Taiwan on security

The United States told Taiwan it has its back on Wednesday amid rising threats from China against the self-governing island.

Efforts to decide Taiwan's future by anything "other than peaceful means" are a "grave concern" to the US, Brent Christensen, Washington's de facto ambassador to Taiwan, told reporters.

In Beijing, a spokesman for China's policy-making Taiwan Affairs Office said the Taiwan issue was about China's sovereignty and territorial integrity, and warned Taipei against teaming up with "foreign forces".

"We resolutely opposed any official exchanges or military contacts between the US side and the Taiwan region," Ma Xiaoguang told a regular news briefing.

"I would like here to stress again - the consequences will be reaped by relying on foreigners to build yourselves up, or colluding with foreign forces to damage peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait," he added, referring to Taiwan's government.

The US is Taiwan's main arms supplier and strongest international backer.

This month, Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen vowed to boost national security and said her government would not submit to Chinese suppression.

China - which has never renounced the use of force to bring Taiwan under its control since a split after a civil war in 1949 - has boosted military and diplomatic pressure on Taipei in recent months.

The Chinese military stepped up encirclement drills around Taiwan, which the island has denounced as intimidation, and three former allies - El Salvador, Burkina Faso and the Dominican Republic - switched ties to Beijing this year.

The US' new $256m representative office in Taiwan's capital is an "important symbol" of their partnership, Christensen said, adding Washington would keep backing Taiwan's "substantive role" in the international community.

China has been infuriated by recent US sanctions on its military, among several flashpoints in ties ranging from a bitter trade war and the issue of Taiwan to China's increasingly muscular military posture in the South China Sea.

Last week, the US sent two warships through the Taiwan Strait in its second such operation this year, despite opposition from China.

The US cut formal ties with Taiwan in 1979 to recognise Beijing, but the sides maintain robust unofficial military and diplomatic ties.

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