March 30, 2016 / 4:57 AM / in 2 years

China warns Taiwan over new law governing cross-strait relations

BEIJING (Reuters) - The Chinese government warned Taiwan on Wednesday that the passage of a proposed new law governing relations between the two could seriously damage the basis for talks, and that Beijing opposed any obstacles to developing ties.

Taiwan president Tsai Ing-wen speaks during a news conference in Taipei, Taiwan March 15, 2016. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu

China has looked on with suspicion at Taiwan since Tsai Ing-wen and her pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) won presidential and parliamentary elections in January on the back of a wave of anti-China sentiment.

In 2014, hundreds of students occupied Taiwan’s parliament for weeks in protests nicknamed the Sunflower Movement, demanding more transparency and fearful of China’s growing economic and political influence on the democratic island.

The protests over the 2013 Cross-Strait Service Trade Agreement, which aimed to open up investment from both sides in industries such as banking, healthcare, and tourism, were the largest display of anti-China sentiment in Taiwan in years.

The DPP is proposing Taiwan’s parliament first passes a so-called cross-Taiwan Strait supervision law before it will consider agreeing to the trade pact.

China is worried that the law would stymie future agreements with Taiwan.

Asked about the law, a spokesman for China’s Taiwan Affairs Office said the basis for talks between the two sides should not be damaged.

“Anything that damages the basis for consultations and negotiations between the two sides of the strait, interferes in or impedes relevant progress or puts up man-made blocks on the development of ties, we will resolutely oppose,” spokesman An Fengshan said at a regular briefing.

He did not elaborate.

The trade deal has stalled in Taiwan’s parliament, although the manner in which the self-ruled island moves forward in the current February-to-May session will be seen as a sign of how Tsai will steer Taiwan-China ties.

China’s trade minister last month urged Taiwan to pass the trade pact.

China considers Taiwan a wayward province, to be brought under its control by force if necessary. Defeated Nationalist forces fled to the island in 1949 after the Chinese civil war.

Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Paul Tait

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