- The Washington Times - Monday, January 11, 2021

China on Monday slammed a recent decision by the Trump administration to end restrictions on diplomatic and military contacts with Taiwan and vowed to respond to the move with "a firm counterattack."

The State Department over the weekend announced the policy shift that is also designed to upgrade ties with the island state and end "appeasement of China."

Senior U.S. civilian officials and military officers will now be free to travel to Taiwan, which China views as its own territory.

"The Chinese people’s resolve to defend our sovereignty and territorial integrity is unshakable and we will not permit any person or force to stop the process of China’s reunification," Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian told reporters Monday, as quoted by Reuters.

"Any actions which harm China’s core interests will be met with a firm counterattack and will not succeed," he added.

In an effort to uphold relations with Beijing, most high-ranking U.S. military officers have long been banned from traveling to Taiwan and lower-ranking officers were not allowed to wear military uniforms and had been forced to dress as civilians.

Senior government officials and diplomats also were barred from traveling to the island.

Despite the tough talk from Beijing, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Kelly Craft is expected to travel to Taiwan in the wake of strict crackdowns from China on pro-democracy legislators in Hong Kong.

Joseph Wu, Taiwan’s foreign minister, welcomed the decision by the U.S. to open diplomatic channels and said the move is a "big thing for the elevation of Taiwan-U.S. relations."

"Taiwan-U.S. relations have been elevated to a global partnership," he continued. "The foreign ministry will not let our guard down and hopes to continue to boost the development of Taiwan-U.S. ties."

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