World

US Senate passes Taiwan travel bill that has angered China

The move adds to tensions between Beijing and Washington already at loggerheads over trade

BEIJING/WASHINGTON: China expressed anger yesterday after the US Senate passed a bill promoting closer ties with Taiwan, but the step drew praise from the self-ruled island, which pledged to deepen cooperation.

The move adds to tensions between China and the US, already at loggerheads over trade, with President Xi Jinping's close economic adviser Liu He in Washington this week to try and avert a trade war.

Several top US steel and aluminium executives have been invited to the White House for what could be a major trade announcement, according to two people familiar with the meeting.

US President Donald Trump has vowed to take steps to crack down on imports of steel and aluminium and has been considering imposing hefty tariffs on imports of the metals from China and other countries.

Beijing considers democratic Taiwan to be a wayward province and integral part of "one China", ineligible for state-to-state relations, and has never renounced the use of force to bring it under its control.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hua Chunying told a daily news briefing: "China is strongly dissatisfied with this and resolutely opposes it, and has already lodged stern representations with the US side."

The "one China" principle is the foundation for China-US ties, Ms Hua added.

DAMAGING

China urges the US to cease official exchanges with Taiwan and "prudently and appropriately handle issues related to Taiwan to avoid seriously interfering with and damaging China-US relations", she said.

The Senate passed the Taiwan Travel Act by unanimous consent. It passed the House of Representatives in January, also without opposition. The legislation only needs Mr Trump's signature to become law.

The bill says it should be US policy to allow officials at all levels to travel to Taiwan to meet their Taiwanese counterparts, permit high-level Taiwanese officials to enter the US "under respectful conditions" and meet with US officials, and encourage Taiwanese economic and cultural representatives to conduct business in the US.

White House officials did not immediately respond when asked if Mr Trump planned to sign the legislation. - REUTERS

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