China says the United States is “playing with fire” by a series of actions it has taken in the Taiwan Strait in support of the self-ruled island’s secession bid.
Chinese Defense Ministry spokesman Wu Qian made the comment in a monthly news briefing on Thursday, saying Washington has recently been incessantly playing the “Taiwan card” in a futile effort to “use Taiwan to control China.”
“This is deluded,” he said. “The series of actions the US side has taken is playing with fire, seriously harms the development of military relations between China and the United States, and seriously harms peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait area.”
China issued the warning as Taipei was conducting a live-fire drill on Thursday at a beach in southern Taiwan.
Beijing has accused Washington of making "a series of moves" on Taiwan and "other issues" that harm China’s sovereignty.
Almost all world countries, including the US, recognize Chinese sovereignty over self-ruled Taiwan. Beijing has pursued Taiwan’s reunification ever since the island broke away from the mainland during a civil war in 1949.
The administration of US President Donald Trump has, however, been playing up the prospect of direct relations with Taiwan as an apparent bargain against China.
Washington — which has no formal diplomatic relations with Taipei by law — has extensive military ties with Taiwan, selling advanced military hardware to the island.
Beijing has constantly warned that it would not tolerate any activity, in any form or name, which attempts to separate Taiwan from the mainland.
Chinese Defense Minister Wei Fenghe is scheduled to meet Pentagon chief Patrick Shanahan in Singapore, where the two are attending the annual Shangri-La defense forum amid an intensified trade war.
According to a senior US defense official, during the planned meeting, Shanahan is expected to bring up better communication between the two militaries to avoid the risk of confrontation.
On his first day as acting Pentagon chief in January, Shanahan said that his main priority would be “China, China, China.”
Wei, however, is expected to discuss the trade dispute and the Trump administration's approaches to Taiwan and the South China Sea, according to security experts and regional diplomats.
Washington has escalated its trade dispute with Beijing over the past weeks, raising speculations that tensions could even extend beyond the trade sphere and affect other areas of contention, including Taiwan as well as the South China Sea.