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China urges US to stop sending wrong signals to Taipei's separatist forces

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
The file photo shows the Taipei 101 skyscraper in Chinese Taipei from Xiangshan Mountain. (By Xinhua)

China has urged the United States to stop interfering in the affairs of Chinese Taipei and sending wrong signals to separatist forces in the self-governed Chinese island.

Ma Xiaoguang, spokesperson for the Taiwan Affairs Office of China's State Council, made the remarks at a regular news conference in Beijing on Wednesday, Xinhua news agency reported.

"We deplore the US playing the 'Taiwan card,'" Ma said, adding that Beijing urged Washington to abide by the "one China" principle and relevant stipulations of the three China-US joint communiques, properly handle Taipei-related issues, and stop sending wrong signals to "Taiwan independence" forces.

Ma said the separatist forces in Chinese Taipei were colluding with foreign forces in pursuit of the island's "independence" and warned that if the separatist forces dared to provoke, "we have the right to take all necessary measures to stop them."

Ma made the comments in response to a query about a recent claim by the United States that the country needed to strengthen regional deterrence in the Taiwan Strait. He said the US attempts to maintain so-called "deterrence in the Taiwan Strait" would only further threaten the peace and stability across the sensitive waterway.

Chinese Taipei falls under China's sovereignty, and under the "one China" policy, almost all world countries — the US included — recognize that sovereignty. But, in violation of its own stated policy and in an attempt to irritate Beijing, Washington has maintained and recently ramped up diplomatic contact with the self-proclaimed government in Chinese Taipei. Washington is also the island's largest weapon supplier.

US warships also periodically sail in the Taiwan Strait, often triggering angry responses from Beijing.

US, Taiwan coast guards to hold first joint drills at sea: Report

On Tuesday, the Liberty Times reported that Chinese Taipei and the United States coast guards had scheduled their first-ever joint exercise at sea for the "near future."

The daily, citing an unnamed Taipei coast guard official, said the exercises were a rehearsal for an upcoming joint exercise.

The report came after vessel-tracking data showed a fleet of Taiwanese ships sailing into the Pacific and conducting training drills 28 nautical miles off the eastern port of Hualien. The fleet returned to the same location early on Wednesday, according to vessel-tracker MarineTraffic, which uses ship data transmitted to the automatic identification system (AIS).

Chinese Taipei denied its ships had exercised with American warships in the drills amid speculation that the United States coast guard was also involved, but said it "does not rule out" cooperation in the future.

The island's coast guard said in a statement on its website that the "US-Taipei Coast Guard Working Group (CGWG)" — agreed back in March as a way to increase maritime cooperation between the two sides — involved cooperation in areas such as search and rescue, as well as tackling illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing.

The coast guard said it "also does not rule out any possible form of interaction or cooperation in the future," but noted that the contents of the coast guard pact would not be disclosed without the agreement of both parties.

The American Institute in Taiwan (AIT), the de facto US embassy in Taipei, also confirmed on Wednesday the first meeting had taken place of the US-Taiwan CGWG.

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