China submits official protest of potential U.S.-Taiwan naval visits

A line of M60A3 Patton main battle tank fire at a target during the annual Han Kuang exercises in outlying Penghu Island, Taiwan, Thursday, May 25, 2017. (AP Photo/Chiang Ying-ying)

Chinese rhetoric over U.S. relations with Taiwan has heated up in recent days. As we reported here, a Chinese diplomat (giving what appeared to have been informal remarks) suggested that a U.S. naval visit to Taiwan would mean war during an event held by the Chinese Embassy in DC.

Voice of America reports that China has actually lodged a protest over legislation that potentially authorizes such visits:

China submitted an official protest with the United States Thursday after U.S. President Donald Trump signed into law a measure that could result in U.S. naval warships visiting self-ruled Taiwan. Trump signed into law Tuesday defense budget legislation that authorizes the possibility of mutual visits by naval ships between Taiwan and the U.S… Tensions in the region escalated in recent days after a senior Chinese diplomat warned that Beijing would invade Taiwan if any U.S. warships visited Taiwan, which China claims as its territory. Chinese warplanes carried out patrols around Taiwan on Tuesday, with Chinese state media showing images of bombers armed with cruise missiles. Read more at VOA…

Although the Taiwan Relations Act requires that the U.S. defend Taiwan against any aggression by China, China’s leaders regard arms sales to Taiwan as a violation of the “One China” principle and which interfere in China’s “internal affairs.”

Although President Trump has not sought to openly provoke the Chinese over cross-strait issues, his approach has differed from that of previous presidents. Then President Elect Trump’s phone conversation with Taiwan’s president in December 2016 was the first between a U.S. President or President Elect and Taiwan’s president since the U.S. severed diplomatic ties with Taiwan in 1979.

Depending on their political orientation, U.S. commentators tended to describe that call as either a bold move signalling an assertive new American foreign policy, or a reckless move contrary to established practice which needlessly antagonized the Chinese government.

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