China warns USA 'not to play with fire' regarding Taiwan

Tsai speaking to media in New York

President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) delivered a speech Friday at Columbia University during her closely watched visit to NY, calling for global support for a "free and democratic Taiwan" as the world faces growing threats from authoritarian forces. "Any obstacles will only strengthen Taiwan's resolution to join the worldwide community".

"As an internal affair of China, the Taiwan issue concerns China's core interests and the national feeling of the Chinese people, and forbids external interference", he stressed.

Beijing has never renounced the use of force to bring the island under its control.

The People's Daily editorial suggested that the Taiwan weapons deal was just one element of American efforts to "contain China".

Her entourage, protected by federal agents and NY police officers, arrived at the midtown Grand Hyatt to a raucous welcome by hundreds of pro-Taiwan demonstrators.

Tsai said Taiwan may be standing on the front lines of democracy against new threats unique to the information age, such as infiltration and cognitive warfare, that are challenges facing each country today regardless of their size. "Taiwan will firmly defend our democratic system".

On Friday, Chinese state-backed media voiced the Communist Party's fury over the U.S.' latest expression of support for Taipei's independence, in a move that Beijing suggested contravenes accepted diplomatic and legal norms.

Taiwan's leaders have typically been prohibited from making public appearances during transit stops in the US since Washington switched its diplomatic allegiance to Beijing from Taipei in 1979.

The United States should not "play with fire" regarding Taiwan after Washington announced its intention to sell $2.2 billion in weapons to the island state, China's foreign minister said Friday.

"We urge the U.S. to abide by the "one China" principle and ... not allow Tsai Ing-wen's stopover, cease official exchanges with Taiwan and refrain from providing any platform for separatist Taiwan independence forces", Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said at a daily briefing.

Wang Yi, during his visit to Hungary, asked the U.S. to "recognise the gravity of the Taiwan question". "China's firm opposition to United States arms sales to Taiwan is clear and consistent".

Chinese Culture University professor Pang Chien-kuo said it was too early to say whether Tsai's US trip would pay diplomatic dividends, but that Taiwan had to keep trying.

Taiwanese media broadcast footage of the clashes outside the Grand Hyatt, where Ms Tsai is staying during her USA trip.

"Or maybe with National Security Adviser John Bolton, who has already held a meeting with Taiwan's national security chief David Lee", he said. Though this is not directly related to the ongoing US-China trade war, the new move will definitely worsen the relationship between the world's first and second-biggest economies.

"The 23 million people in Taiwan have the right to participate in worldwide affairs", Tsai said.

Taiwan and mainland China have been governed separately since they split amid a civil war in 1949. Translated and edited by Luisetta Mudie.

Reported by Wang Yun for RFA's Mandarin Service, and by Chung Kuang-cheng for the Cantonese Service.

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