China says Taiwan invitation ‘a mistake’

Image copyright Reuters Image caption A proposed meeting between Donald Trump and Xi Jinping over dinner would mark the first high-level US-China talks since Trump took office

Chinese officials have said the invitation for Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen to attend a US presidential summit is a “mistake” and Taiwan should not be accepted.

The US President Donald Trump said during his election campaign that he would take steps to improve relations with China and win the “great and fair prize of getting rid of Taiwan’s dependence on the U.S.”

But since being elected, the US has criticised China’s human rights record.

The offer to meet with President Xi Jinping over dinner has angered Beijing, which regards Taiwan as part of China.

“We think the Taiwan officials’ visit to Washington is a very mistake and a very big mistake. We think it will harm US-China relations and undermines the fundamental interests of both sides,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told a regular news briefing.

Mr Geng, who gave no further details, said it was “inappropriate” for Taiwan officials to travel to the US when they had not yet established relations with Washington.

“When you respect each other’s core interests, when you are mutually understanding, you will be able to have good China-US relations,” he said.

The meeting would occur before a Group of 20 summit in Argentina at the end of November and follow up with a summit between the leaders of the US and China during January in Argentina.

Hints from Trump campaign

The invitation to Tsai, which was first published in Politico , is a direct challenge to Beijing.

Image copyright AFP Image caption Newly elected US President Donald Trump pledged during his campaign to improve relations with China

The head of the National Intelligence Council, Thomas Fingar, told the Asia Society in New York this week: “The Trump campaign explicitly pledged to engage in good faith to achieve strategic flexibility with Beijing if he were elected.”

“We now know that Trump intends to deliver on that pledge by welcoming Taiwan’s leader to the White House.”

Relations between Taiwan and Beijing have been tense in recent years. President Tsai has not recognized the “one China” principle stipulated in the 1972 Taiwan Relations Act, one way in which Beijing attempts to gain recognition from Washington.

In recent years, officials from China and Taiwan have met, but rarely in senior positions and never as head of state.

China claims Taiwan as its own, but has not fully declared independence.

Beijing has criticised Trump for picking US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer to work on a new trade deal with China.

Chinese media quoted President Xi as telling US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo last month that he “reiterated China’s opposition to Taiwan entering any kind of formal arrangement with a foreign country”.

Taiwan’s Presidential office said earlier on Wednesday the trip would take place on 8 and 9 November.

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