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Taiwan, US exchange diplomatic visits after election despite China warnings

[TAIPEI] A senior member of Taiwan's independence-leaning Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) will visit the United States after the party's landslide election win at the weekend, underscoring the importance of ties with its major ally and source of arms.

The visit by DPP secretary general Joseph Wu, who leaves for Washington on Monday, comes after an increasingly assertive China warned Taiwan in the wake of the election to abandon its"hallucination" about independence.

Tsai Ing-wen's DPP won convincingly in presidential and parliamentary elections on Saturday that could usher in a new round of instability with China, which claims self-ruled Taiwan as its own.

China has never renounced the use of force to take back what it deems a renegade province, particularly if it makes moves toward independence.

The Global Times, an influential tabloid published by the ruling Communist Party's official People's Daily in China, said in an editorial on Monday Ms Tsai should consider the opinions of China's 1.3 billion people as well as Taiwan's own people when it came to relations across the Taiwan Strait.

"Trying to use chips like 'Taiwan public opinion' to guide cross-Strait relations is not only unrealistic, it is also dangerous. Tsai Ing-wen should not instil this illusion into Taiwan society," the editorial said. "The mainland has patience when it comes to the Taiwan issue, but it also has principles and a bottom line," it said.

A rapid exchange of Taiwanese and US diplomats after the election highlights the importance Taipei places on its ties with Washington, which has congratulated Ms Tsai on her victory.

Mr Wu is the DPP's senior national security official and will deliver a keynote speech discussing the aftermath of the vote at a think tank in Washington on Tuesday, although the DPP described his trip as "routine" and gave no other details.

Former US Deputy Secretary of State Bill Burns and American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) Chairman Ray Burghardt met DPP officials on Monday. The AIT is the de facto US embassy in Taipei in the absence of formal diplomatic ties.

Mr Burns and Mr Burghardt would "convey the United States' support for Taiwan's continued prosperity and growth, as well as our longstanding interest in cross-Strait peace and stability", according to a statement by the AIT.

The passage of a supervisory bill on cross-Strait exchanges, initiated in 2014 after large protests over a stalled trade pact with China, would be a legislative priority when the new parliamentary session begins in February, Ms Tsai was quoted as saying in an interview with a Taiwanese magazine on Monday.


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