China should and will take military action if the U.S. decides to press ahead with legislation designed to encourage high-level contact with Taiwanese officials, according to a report by state media outlet The Global Times.
The legislation, known as the Taiwan Travel Act, came into effect Friday after President Donald Trump signed the bill. China was reportedly angered by the move, as it has long-viewed the self-ruled island as a wayward province.
The Global Times, considered a provocative but widely-read mouthpiece for Beijing, quoted Chinese observers who said the country would have no choice but to respond with "counter moves" if the U.S. were to make any moves to elevate its relations with the island. Liu Weidong, a research fellow at the Institute of American Studies of Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said the Chinese army would resume its military probes circling the island and send more military vessels and airplanes if any "Taiwan independence" secessionist forces perceive the U.S bill as a pro-independence signal.
The U.S. legislation comes at a time when Trump has recently imposed trade tariffs, has urged China to reduce its massive trade imbalance with the U.S. and has frequently called on Beijing to help resolve tensions with North Korea.
In response to the bill, China said Saturday that it "firmly opposes" the move and demanded the U.S. "correct its mistake," according to the Chinese Foreign Ministry's website.