China warns USA 'not to play with fire' regarding Taiwan

People demonstrate outside Grand Hyatt hotel where Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen is supposed to stay during her visit to the US in New York City

Tsai dismissed Chinese criticism of both her visit and the arms deal.

"Some people are wondering whether she will meet with Trump's family, as Trump Tower is in NY, even though she won't meet with the president himself".

On Thursday, police in NY had to break up fights between supporters and opponents of Ms Tsai.

Just after 8:00 a.m. Sunday (July 14), China's Ministry of National Defense announced that the People Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) would be conducting military drills in the airspace along the southern coast, presumably near Taiwan, in the coming days. But the United States has maintained unofficial relations with Taiwan and has provided it with defensive weapons meant to deter a Chinese attack.

"We can't not make these trips, but the question is whether Tsai will do everything in her power to achieve a skillful breakthough", Pang said.

Chinese Culture University professor Pang Chien-kuo said it was too early to say whether Tsai's USA trip would pay diplomatic dividends, but that Taiwan had to keep trying.

On Friday, China said it would impose sanctions on USA firms involved in a deal to sell $2.2 billion worth of tanks, missiles and related equipment to Taiwan, saying it harmed China's sovereignty and national security.

Speaking before departure at Taipei's main global airport at Taoyuan, Tsai said she would share the values of freedom and transparency with Taiwan's allies, and was looking forward to finding more worldwide space for Taiwan.

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"Our democracy has not come easily and now is facing the threat and technological penetration of foreign forces", she said, in a veiled reference to China.
"We will work with countries with similar ideas to ensure the stability of the democratic system".

Military strength of Taiwan and China compared. The Taiwanese president is visiting Haiti, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Vincent and the Grenadines and St. Lucia on a 12-day trip. She was scheduled to deliver a speech to a U.S. -Taiwan business summit and attend a dinner with members of the Taiwanese-American community.

Seeking to bolster Taiwan's defenses, the United States this week approved an arms sale worth an estimated $2.2 billion for Taiwan, despite CCP criticism. There is no official itinerary for her visit or indication of whether she will meet with U.S. officials.

Tsai has repeatedly warned of the threat from its giant neighbour China and has vowed to defend Taiwan's security, democracy and way of life.

Taiwan and mainland China have been governed separately since they split amid a civil war in 1949.

Douglas Paal, who served as US representative to Taiwan from 2002 to 2006, said Tsai's extended stopovers showed USA approval for the "caution and restraint" she had shown in her dealings with Beijing. "This is also ... a message to China".

Earlier, China accused the USA of "unilateral bullying" against Iran and blamed Washington for the potential breakdown of the 2015 nuclear deal.

Unlike the last three American presidents, who were wary of angering Beijing, Donald Trump has ramped up relations with Taiwan.

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