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US should not be baited into breaking its word: China Daily editorial | Updated: 2018-03-01 21:36

In one of the joint communiqués that underpins relations between the United States and China, the two countries state their agreement that Washington can only maintain unofficial ties with Taiwan. It is this recognition that Taiwan is an inalienable part of China and the US' upholding of the one-China principle that have served as the foundation for ties since diplomatic relations were established in 1979.

Which is why China is "strongly dissatisfied" and "resolutely opposes" the Taiwan Travel Act being approved by the US Senate, as the act breaks this agreement by encouraging exchange visits by US officials and their "Taiwan counterparts".

All that is needed now for it to become law is the signature of US President Donald Trump. And it may be tempting for him to give his endorsement, as he may consider it a means of extracting trade concessions from Beijing in his country's favor. But unless he is ready to see the by and large stable and so-far profitable relationship derailed, unless he is determined to plunge his country into a pointless, mutually damaging altercation, or worse, he should resist the seducement. Instead, he should try his best to preserve the generally fine momentum of bilateral interaction as well as the goodwill he has accumulated with the Chinese leadership.

Not everyone buys Trump's faith in his personal rapport with President Xi Jinping. But, at the very least, his pragmatic approach has been reciprocated. Even as the danger of widening trade tit-for-tat rises, both governments are demonstrating their willingness to talk to avoid a trade war.

Unlike trade, though, Taiwan is a matter of sovereignty. For Beijing, it is a clearly defined core interest that is not negotiable.

Trump should bear in mind that since she became leader on the island, Tsai Ing-wen and her Democratic Progressive Party have been increasingly trying to embroil the US in their secessionist shenanigans.

The US may believe that the agreement it made was a necessity of the past, and breaking its word an imperative of the present. But by signing the Taiwan Travel Act into law, the US leader will only encourage Tsai in her bid to portray the island as eligible for state-to-state relations. Which, if she persisted, would lead to the inevitable consequence of triggering the Anti-Secession Law that allows Beijing to use force to prevent the island from seceding.

Since the US is bound by domestic law to act on behalf of the island in that instance, it would only give substance to the observation that the descent into hell is easy.

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