China calls on US to ‘stop official exchanges’ with Taiwan

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Beijing: China on Monday called on the US to “stop all official exchanges” with Taiwan amid reports that the US was “seriously considering” to rename Taiwan’s office in Washington.

“The US should prudently handle the Taiwan question so as to not seriously damage China-US relations and peace and stability across the Taiwan Straits,” Zhao Lijian, a spokesman for China’s Foreign Ministry, told a news conference in Beijing.

Beijing’s reaction came after reports claimed that Washington was “seriously considering to change the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office’s (TECRO) name to the Taiwan Representative Office.”

Zhao said China has “lodged solemn representations” with the US regarding the issue, Chinese daily Global Times reported.

Taiwan Monday also began 37th edition of its annual Han Kuang military exercises.

“One of the drills on the first day aims to test soldiers against CBRN (Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear) threat. Troopers with 39th Chemical Group ROC (Republic of China — Taiwan) Army were dispatched to conduct decontamination after a simulated bioweapon attack,” Taiwan’s Defense Ministry said.

Beijing claims the island nation of Taiwan as a “breakaway province,” while Taipei insists it has been independent since 1949.

Taipei has been maintaining independent diplomatic relations with at least 16 nations, angering Beijing.

The US formally recognized People’s Republic of China in 1979 and under the so-called Three Communiques shifted diplomatic relations from Taipei to Beijing, thus including Taiwan as part of the mainland China.

In the latest diplomatic row over Taiwan, Beijing last month asked Lithuania’s ambassador to China to return home. Beijing also recalled its ambassador from Vilnius.

The reaction came after the Baltic nation moved ahead and decided to exchange diplomatic offices with Taiwan.

China also suspended rail freight to Lithuania, Taiwan’s Foreign Ministry had claimed, and reportedly halted export permits for the country’s producers.