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People walk next to a Taiwanese flag, in Taipei, Taiwan, 06 April 2023

By Kelly Ng

BBC News

China has said it will “never compromise” on the issue of Taiwan, in its first military talks with the US since 2021.

It urged the US to “stop arming Taiwan” and take its concerns “seriously”.

This comes just days ahead of pivotal elections in Taiwan, which could push the island further towards – or away – from Beijing.

China claims Taiwan as part of its own territory, but the island sees itself as distinct from the Chinese mainland.

“China expressed its willingness to develop healthy and stable military-to-military relations with the United States on the basis of equality and respect,” said the defence ministry readout.

It went on to say that the US needed to take China’s concerns “seriously”, adding that Beijing would “not make any concession or compromise on the Taiwan question and demand that the US side honor the one-China principle, relevant commitments, stop arming Taiwan, and not support Taiwan independence”.

Taiwan is a key flashpoint in the tussle between China and the US for supremacy in Asia. In 2022, China refused to resume talks as a protest move after then US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited Taiwan in August 2022.

Their resumption early this week follows a deal struck by Chinese president Xi Jinping and his US counterpart Joe Biden during a meeting in November. The two-day talks concluded in Washington on Tuesday.

Separately, Taiwan has said it does not consider the launch of a Chinese satellite over the island’s southern airspace on Tuesday an act of election interference.

A satellite launch on Tuesday afternoon prompted an islandwide air raid alert. Mobile phone users across the self-ruled island received a message warning them to “be aware for your safety”.

Taiwan’s defence ministry later apologised for its inaccurate reference to a missile in the alert sent to mobile phones.

“After the national security team has analysed the overall relevant information and taken into account the evaluation of the information of various international allies, political attempts can be ruled out,” said Lin Yu-chan, a spokesman of Taiwan’s presidential office.

Chinese state media said the satellite, named the Einstein Probe, is used to “observe mysterious transient phenomena”.

The island’s main opposition party the Kuomintang (KMT) criticised the “arbitrary” use of an islandwide alert as fear-mongering.

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