China's foreign ministry rebuked the U.S. Congress after legislators passed a bill allowing the sale of second-hand warships to Taiwan, the self-ruled island which Beijing claims as a renegade province.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said the bill's passage was an "interference" in China's internal affairs: "China is resolutely opposed to this and has already made solemn representations to the U.S. side. We hope the U.S. Congress stops carrying forward this legislation," Hong told reporters at a regular press briefing. "We also hope the newly elected authorities can prevent the implementation of this legislation to avoid influencing the development of China-U.S. relations," Added.
The bill, which includes provisions on the transfer of warships to Mexico, Thailand and Pakistan, still has to be signed into law by U.S. President Barack Obama. The U.S. Senate unanimously approved the bill last week, authorizing the sale of four Perry-class guided missile frigates to Taiwan. China expressed anger in April when a similar bill passed in the U.S. House of Representatives. U.S. weapons sales in recent years to Taiwan have attracted strong condemnation in China, but have not caused lasting damage to Beijing's relations with either Washington or Taipei.
While Taiwan and China have signed a series of landmark trade and economic agreements since 2008, political and military suspicions are still deep, especially in democratic Taiwan where many fear China's true intentions.