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Taiwan warns China to 'back off'

Taiwan warns China to 'back off'
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Taiwan advised China on Tuesday to "back off," accusing the nation of threatening peace after a Beijing official rejected an observance of a marine median line.

Agence France-Presse reported Taiwanese Foreign Minister Joseph Wu urged Beijing to "return to the civilized international standards" after a Chinese foreign ministry spokesman dismissed an established median in the Taiwan Strait, saying "Taiwan is an inseparable part of Chinese territory."

Despite Taiwan's more than seven-decades of self-rule since the Chinese Civil War, the People's Republic of China asserts the island is part of its territory.

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"The median line has been a symbol of preventing military conflicts and maintaining peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait for many years," Wu said to reporters. "The Chinese foreign ministry's comment is equivalent of destroying the status quo."

Beijing has been adding pressure over its claimed rule of the island since the 2012 election of Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen, who has been critical of the "one China" consensus.

On Friday, Taiwan scrambled several fighter jets after China sent 18 planes over the Taiwan Strait as a show of force while U.S. officials conducted meetings in Taiwan.

Taiwan accused China last year of violations of a long-held agreement after Chinese fighter jets crossed the median line for the first time in years.

This month, Chinese exercises have been ramping in the airspace beyond the median line, with Taiwanese authorities describing the move as a destabilization tactic.

Last week, the Trump administration announced plans to approve a large arms sale to Taiwan, including anti-ship missiles and other long-range missiles.