China criticizes US Senate bill backing Taiwan defense

BANGKOK — China’s Foreign Ministry on Thursday accused the United States of violating its commitment to the “One China” principle and interfering in China’s internal affairs, after the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee ruled. approved a new bill that could significantly increase US support for the defense of the island of Taiwan.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Mao Ning told reporters in Beijing that China had “filed serious complaints” with Washington over the legislation, which still needs House of Commons approval. United States and President Joe Biden to become law.

“The one-China principle is the political foundation of China-US relations,” she said. “If the bill continues to be debated, advanced or even enacted, it will significantly shake the political foundations of China-US relations and cause extremely serious consequences for China-US relations and cross-strait peace and stability. from Taiwan.”

China claims Taiwan’s self-governing democracy as its own territory and does not rule out retaking the island by force if necessary. The sides split after a civil war in 1949 and have no official relations, with China even cutting off informal contact after pro-independence Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen was elected in 2016.

As part of its “One China” policy, the United States recognizes the government in Beijing while allowing informal relations and defense ties with Taipei.

It takes a stance of “strategic ambiguity” towards Taiwan’s defense – leaving open the question of whether it would respond militarily if the island were attacked.

The Taiwan Policy Act of 2022, approved by the committee on Wednesday, aims to “support Taiwan’s security and its right to self-determination,” providing billions of dollars in defense funding to bolster its “counter-intervention capabilities.” .

Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez, co-author of the bipartisan bill with Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham, stressed that it emphasizes deterrence and that China should not view it as a threat.

“The bill we approve today makes it clear that the United States does not seek war or heightened tensions with Beijing. On the contrary,” he said in a statement. “We are cautiously and strategically reducing the existential threats Taiwan faces by increasing the cost of taking the island by force so that it becomes too high and impractical a risk.”

The committee’s approval of the bill comes at a time when tensions between Beijing and Washington were already high over Taiwan after US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taipei last month. .

This prompted China to fire missiles into the Taiwan Strait and mobilize large numbers of warships and warplanes for exercises around the island.

China views high-level foreign visits to the island as interference in its affairs and a de facto recognition of Taiwanese sovereignty, and there has been a steady stream of high-level American visitors since Pelosi’s visit.

The Biden administration has insisted that the United States’ “One China” policy has not changed.

Despite the lack of formal diplomatic relations with Taiwan, the United States is its main political backer and source of defensive weapons, and during her visit Pelosi said she wanted to help the island defend itself.

In a statement, Taiwan’s foreign ministry said it would continue to maintain close communication with the US government on the bill, in the hope “it can become law and make further progress in the deepening friendly relations between the United States and Taiwan, and ensuring the freedom, peace and stability of the Indo-Pacific region.

———

Associated Press writer Huizhong Wu contributed from Taipei.

Norman D. Briggs