China has reiterated its opposition to any contacts between U.S. officials and Taiwan's government following a meeting between Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and Gov. Greg Abbott and the self-governing island's President Tsai Ing-wen.
Cruz and Abbot met with Tsai on Sunday while she was passing through Houston on her way to a visit to Taiwan's Central American allies.
At a news briefing in Beijing on Monday, Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said China was firmly opposed to any contact between Taiwan's leader and "anyone from the U.S. government." Such contacts threaten to disturb and undermine relations between Washington and Beijing, Lu said.
China claims Taiwan as its own territory and has been ratcheting up the diplomatic pressure on the independence-leaning Tsai since her election last year.
Cruz said in a news release that during his meeting with Tsai, they "discussed our mutual opportunity to upgrade the stature of our bilateral relations" in a talk that addressed arms sales, diplomatic exchanges and economic relations.
An official with Republican President elect-Donald Trump's transition team said neither Trump nor transition officials would meet with Tsai. Her stop in the U.S. was scrutinized by Beijing for any signs that Trump's team would risk its ire by further engaging with the self-ruled island that China considers its territory.
Trump last month breached diplomatic protocol by speaking by phone with the Taiwanese leader. Trump raised further concerns in Beijing when he questioned a U.S. policy that since 1979 has recognized Beijing as China's government and maintains only unofficial relations with Taiwan.
U.S. lawmakers often meet with Taiwanese presidents when they transit through the U.S. — most recently in June, when Tsai met in Miami with Republican Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida.
China's nationalistic tabloid Global Times said Beijing would take a hard line toward any contacts between Taiwan's government and the incoming Trump administration. China "should also impose military pressure on Taiwan and push it to the edge of being reunified by force," the ruling Communist Party-published paper said in an editorial Sunday.
China has "seized the initiative. The U.S. and Taiwan now should restrain, or be forced to restrain, themselves," the paper said.
"Tsai needs to face the consequences for every provocative step she takes," it said.
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