BEIJING (AP) -- China and the U.S. are sparring over El Salvador's decision to drop Taiwan in favor of diplomatic relations with Beijing, with a Chinese spokesman on Wednesday accusing Washington of trying to deter other nations from making a similar switch.
Speaking at a daily briefing, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang said El Salvador had "made the right decision" and "no one is in a position to point fingers at or interfere in it."
"The U.S. established ties with China nearly four decades ago. However, the U.S. government now on the one hand is thwarting and even deterring other countries from ... establishing normal relations with China," Lu said.
While the United States formally recognizes only China, it remains a close Taiwanese ally and maintains a de facto embassy in the island's capital, Taipei.
Taiwan, which China claims as its own territory, is now left with just 17 diplomatic allies as China ratchets up pressure on the island's independence-leaning government to endorse Beijing's "one-China" principle.
El Salvador's announcement Monday prompted the U.S. ambassador to the South American country, Jean Manes, to tweet that the decision "is worrisome for many reasons" and "without doubt this will impact our relationship with the government."
Florida Sen. Marco Rubio threatened to block funding for El Salvador, accusing it of being "against the U.S. on everything."
"Why should we keep sending them so much foreign aid? Today I will begin work to end that," Rubio said via Twitter.
The latest war of words between Beijing and Washington comes amid growing tensions between them over trade and technology transfers, Taiwan, and Beijing's rapid military expansion.