China Opposes Taiwan-US Defense and Military Exchanges

TAIPEI, Taiwan (AP) -- China warned against continued U.S.-Taiwan cooperation Wednesday, responding to reports that the U.S. military was sending officers to help train Taiwan's counterparts and that a delegation of defense contractors would visiting the self-ruled island next week.

"We resolutely oppose the U.S. having any form of official or military contact with China's Taiwan region," Zhu Fenglian, spokeswoman for China's Taiwan Affairs Office, said at a weekly press briefing in Beijing.

Taiwan and China split in 1949 after a civil war. Taiwan never has been part of the People's Republic of China, but the Communist Party says it is obliged to unite with the mainland, by force if necessary.

President Xi Jinping's government has flown fighter jets and bombers near Taiwan in increasing numbers and fired missiles into the sea in an attempt to intimidate the island.

Taiwanese media reported this month that the U.S. had sent 200 military personnel, mostly Marines, to help train Taiwan troops. Taiwan's Defense Ministry has neither denied nor confirmed the report.

Meanwhile, a delegation of around 25 defense contractors is visiting the island next week, hosted by the U.S.-Taiwan Business Council. Nikkei Asia reported that the weapons manufacturers will discuss joint production of drones and ammunition in Taiwan.

"U.S. defense contractors intentionally provoke confrontation between the two sides, taking the opportunity to make a profit," Zhu said. She accused the ruling Democratic Progressive Party, which has been in power for six years, of colluding with the U.S. to press for the island's formal independence.

The U.S. doesn't formally recognize the Taiwan government but is Taipei's most vital provider of weapons and other security assistance as well as political support. China has turned up the heat by sending fighter jets and navy vessels near the island on a near daily basis, especially in response to political meetings between the U.S. and Taiwan.

Earlier this month, China held large-scale military exercises simulating a strike on key targets in Taiwan in response to Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen meeting with U.S. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy.