China Says U.S. Defense Bill Risks ‘Serious Damage’ to Ties


China hit out at a looming U.S defense spending bill that includes a plan to forge closer ties with Taiwan, saying the legislation would damage U.S.-China relations and undermine cross-strait ties.

The U.S. Congress is preparing to pass the sweeping 2019 defense authorization bill, which includes provisions aimed at curtailing China’s influence in Asia, reflecting a growing consensus in Washington to push back against the increasingly assertive nation. Specifically, it calls for the Pentagon to adopt a more proactive role in assessing and strengthening Taiwan’s ability to resist an invasion from China, which sees the democratically run island as a province.

China would also be permanently banned from Rim of the Pacific naval exercises — the world’s largest such drills that are held once every two years — unless it reverses its military activities on reefs and rocks in the disputed South China Sea. China says most of the waters are its sovereign territory, despite a 2016 ruling by an international tribunal that said the country’s claim had no legal standing.

“If these contents are put into law, then serious damage will be done to mutual trust between China and the U.S., to bilateral exchanges and cooperation in many fields, and to stability across the strait,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told a regular briefing Wednesday in Beijing. “We urge the U.S. to give up its Cold War mentality and zero-sum thinking, immediately delete these negative contents, and safeguard instead of disrupting the stable development of bilateral ties.”

The bill’s release coincides with the opening shots of a trade war as Trump imposes billions of dollars of tariffs on Chinese goods to retaliate for what he says are unfair practices that have resulted in a huge trade imbalance with the U.S.