Image copyright Reuters Image caption The two countries have been rivals since China’s Nationalist fled to Taiwan in 1949
China has warned the United States to “calm down” and said that any change in the US’s stance on Taiwan will lead to “consequences”.
Taiwan and the US have had a history of strained relations.
China considers Taiwan, which has been self-governing since 1949, a breakaway province, and has repeatedly said that the island is an integral part of China.
In May, the United States Congress passed a bill that protected Taiwan from the misuse of defence funds.
The bill provided for Taiwan to be given an exemption from cuts to spending on international missile programmes in 2018.
The law runs into opposition from China, whose leaders feel that the US is using Taiwan as a bargaining chip to deal with North Korea.
However, a State Department spokesman said on Tuesday: “We fully expect all countries to respect China’s position on Taiwan.”
Geng Shuang, a Chinese foreign ministry spokesman, said China “has always expected that the United States would have no illusions about the reality and the very serious implications of moves against Taiwan, and always keeps in mind that if they take any moves related to Taiwan’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, China will have no choice but to take firm and resolute measures to safeguard our own interests and those of the people”.
The rhetoric is slightly unusual in Beijing because China normally resists all questioning of its foreign policy.
The two countries have had strained relations since the Nationalist fled to Taiwan. China has threatened to use force to bring Taiwan under its control if the island continues to move towards independence.
“Everybody should have the correct understanding of the issue, the status quo cannot be maintained and there is no question about it,” Geng said, after the State Department said it expects other countries to abide by China’s “indisputable” stance on Taiwan.
Washington says it is committed to maintaining the status quo and does not take sides in the Taiwan issue, but the move to pass the defence bill was seen as strengthening the US commitment to Taiwan.
Taiwan is not an unalloyed success for the United States, though.
Some fear a weakened Taiwan could hand the island’s missiles and gun factories to China, which could force the island to choose between China and the US.
Democratic President Tsai Ing-wen has distanced herself from the previous government’s call for formal independence and says she is committed to peacefully reaching a status quo.