China has lodged "stern representations" with the United States after President Barack Obama signed into law a U.S. defense policy bill that suggests a plan to conduct high-level military exchanges with Taiwan.
Part of the $618.7 billion National Defense Authorization Act "expresses the sense of Congress that (the U.S. Department of Defense) should conduct a program of senior military exchanges between the United States and Taiwan".
In a statement late Sunday, the Chinese Foreign Ministry also said it had lodged a protest with the United States over the Taiwan content of the act and expressed its strong opposition.
The statement says Taiwan is Chinese territory. It also noted that the part of the defense policy bill referring to Taiwan is not legally binding, but says it interferes with internal affairs, which China finds unacceptable.
"We urge the U.S. side to abide by its promises made to China on the Taiwan issue, stop U.S.-Taiwan military contacts and arms sales to Taiwan, to avoid damaging Sino-U.S. ties and peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait."
U.S.-China tensions ratcheted up earlier this month when President-elect Donald Trump spoke by phone to Taiwan leader Tsai Ing-wen, breaking decades of U.S. protocol.
China claims Taiwan as part of its “One China” policy, and the U.S. has recognized that claim since 1979 without having formal diplomatic relations with the island since then.
By signing into law the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2017, outgoing United States President Barack Obama has added further complexity and potentially explosive uncertainty to China-U.S. relations, China’s state-owned China Daily said on Monday.