US President Donald Trump on Saturday defied a warning from Beijing and signed a measure allowing American officials to step up exchanges with Taiwan, a move analysts said will strain already tense Sino-US relations.
Trump’s endorsement of the Taiwan Travel Act comes as Beijing and Washington are in a stand-off over trade and Beijing’s attempts to boost its influence worldwide, with the US House of Representatives proposing that China’s cultural outposts in the US be registered as foreign agents.
The Chinese embassy in Washington said in a statement on Saturday that China was “strongly dissatisfied with” the travel act and firmly opposed it.
“The relevant clauses of the Taiwan Travel Act severely violate the one-China principle,” a statement from the Chinese embassy in Washington said.
The statement said the US should stop pursuing any official ties with Taiwan or improving its current relations with Taiwan in any substantive way.
The White House said the bill would pave the way for more official exchanges with Taipei.
The bill said it should be the policy of the United States to allow officials at all levels of the government to travel to Taiwan to meet their counterparts.
It also said the government should allow high-level Taiwanese officials to enter the United States under conditions of appropriate respect, and to meet their US counterparts.
Taiwan cheered the signing of the act, expressing gratitude for US support for the island.
A statement released by its Foreign Affairs Ministry said it would continue to maintain close contacts with the US and deepen bilateral partnerships at all levels.
“The relationship between Taiwan and the US is close, and has been consolidated after efforts by both sides in recent years,” it said. “The US executive branch has sent more senior officials to Taiwan since Trump has come to office.”