BEIJING — China on Tuesday blasted a U.S. military spending bill that calls for development of plans to help self-ruled Taiwan improve its defenses and warned of possible damage to cooperation in other areas.
The Taiwan provision in the 2019 military budget authorization "is full of cold war thinking" and "interferes in China's internal affairs," said a Ministry of Defense statement.
Beijing claims Taiwan, which split with the mainland in 1949, as part of its territory and has threatened to invade. Washington has no official relations with the island's democratically elected government but is obliged by U.S. law to see that it has the means necessary to defend itself.
A separate Foreign Ministry statement called on Washington to "avoid damaging Chinese-U.S. relations and cooperation in important areas." It gave no details but the two governments are working together on efforts to persuade North Korean leader Kim Jong Un to give up nuclear weapons development.
The criticism adds to a series of U.S.-Chinese conflicts over tariffs, Beijing's claims to the South China Sea and other irritants that have soured relations between governments of the world's two biggest economies.
American lawmakers said the legislation signed Monday by President Donald Trump responds to concern about Beijing's growing military strength and confrontational stance toward its neighbors.
The measure also expands the jurisdiction of a U.S. government security panel to screen foreign investments. That was proposed in response to concern Chinese corporate acquisitions might help Beijing obtain sensitive technologies and information.
The legislation's Taiwan provision "damages mutual trust" and "ruins the atmosphere" for military cooperation, said the Defense Ministry statement.
Taiwan is "the most important and sensitive core issue in Chinese-U.S. relations," it said. "We firmly oppose any official exchanges and military contacts between any country and Taiwan."
Beijing has stepped up efforts to isolate Taiwan internationally. It has ordered airlines, retailers and publishers to refer to the island as part of China on websites and in books and maps. It is lobbying the few countries that still recognize Taipei as a sovereign government to switch ties to Beijing.