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China vows 'legitimate' response to US admiral's visit to Taiwan

China vows 'legitimate' response to US admiral's visit to Taiwan
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China on Monday pledged a “legitimate and necessary response” to a reported visit of a U.S. Navy admiral to Taiwan.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said China “firmly” opposes any form of official exchanges and military contact between Washington and Taipei.

Beijing made the statement after reports that Navy Rear Adm. Michael Studeman, the U.S. Pacific Command’s top intelligence official, made an unannounced visit to the island.

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The United States has not officially confirmed the trip.

The Trump administration has increasingly engaged with Taiwan, in the past month approving three major arms sales to Taipei worth billions.

And in August, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar traveled to the island, becoming the most senior U.S. official to visit in decades. That visit was followed by one from Undersecretary of State Keith Krach in September.

Taiwan has ruled itself for decades though China considers it part of its territory and reacted angrily after the visits from the U.S. officials, increasing military flights in Taiwanese airspace as a show of force.

China also declared sanctions on U.S. defense contractors in response to the recent arms sales.

The U.S. government, however, continues to keep unofficial ties with the autonomous island, and is also Taiwan’s main source for weapons. 

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China will “make a legitimate and necessary reactions” as the situation develops, Zhao said of the most recent visit, though he did not elaborate.

White House national security adviser Robert O’Brien, meanwhile, repeated the U.S. commitment to Taiwan in a speech in the Philippines capital Manila.

“I can’t imagine anything that will cause a greater backlash against China from the entire world if they attempted to use military force to coerce Taiwan,” O'Brien said Monday. “The U.S. is with her friends in Taipei. We will continue to be there.”