China has spoken out against a U.S. defense bill passed Friday which includes a provision calling for yearly military exchanges with Taiwan, which Beijing sees as a breakaway province.
"China firmly opposes any kind of military exchanges between Taiwan and the U.S.," China's defense ministry spokesman Yang Yujun told a press briefing, according to The Global Times state-backed news agency. "What the U.S. Congress has done has interfered with China's domestic affairs, undermined the cross-Straits stability, infringed upon China's sovereignty and security and would finally harm the interests of the U.S."
Yang also said that China urges the United States to "correct their mistakes", and that China retains the right to "take further action" in response to the adoption of the bill, according to the Global Times.
The bill, which overwhelmingly passed the U.S. Senate Friday and now awaits President Obama's signature, advises the Secretary of Defense to "conduct a program of senior military exchanges between the United States and Taiwan", and also calls for a briefing by February on the feasibility of U.S. port calls in the Pacific by Taiwanese forces.
Military exercises between Taiwan and the United States are not new, as the bill notes, but should Obama sign this legislature into law it could lead to high-level exchanges involving senior military leaders from both countries. Under the Taiwan Relations Act, which the U.S. Congress passed in 1979, the United States has routinely provided weapons and military equipment to bolster its self defense.
The National Defense Authorization act (NDAA), an annual defense policy bill, also includes a $3.2 billion increase in military spending.