China has urged the United States to refrain from sending the wrong signals to supporters of Taiwan independence.

China's official Xinhua news agency says State Councilor Tang Jiaxuan told U.S. Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte Sunday that the activities of Taiwan separatists pose a major threat to peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait.

Negroponte met with Chinese Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing earlier Sunday.

On Saturday, two Chinese vice foreign ministers, Yang Jiechi and Dai Bingguo, met Negroponte and expressed Beijing's firm opposition to U.S. plans to sell weapons to Taiwan.

The U.S. Department of Defense recently announced plans to sell Taiwan hundreds of air-to-air and ground-to-air missiles for $421 million.

China and Taiwan split in 1949 after a civil war. But Beijing still considers Taiwan a renegade province, and has threatened to use force against the island if it formally declares independence.

The U.S. says it is opposed to Taiwan taking steps toward independence, but has pledged to defend the island if China carries out its military threat.

Negroponte arrived in China Saturday for a three-day visit. He began his Asian tour Friday in Japan. He next heads to South Korea.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and AP.