updated 7/13/2004 4:50:08 PM ET 2004-07-13T20:50:08

China expressed grave concern Tuesday over U.S. support for Taiwan, saying the island was the most sensitive issue in U.S.-Chinese relations.

Sun Weide, the embassy spokesman, also said Beijing was dissatisfied with comments by U.S. officials and lawmakers on Chinese policies in Hong Kong, where hundreds of thousands marched on July 1 in a pro-democracy demonstration.

Several times during a news conference he said the United States should honor its commitments to China on Taiwan, a reference to U.S. pledges made in the 1980s that include a promise to reduce and eventually end arms sales to Taiwan.

But Sun stopped short of saying national security adviser Condoleezza Rice had not been sufficiently firm in stating U.S. policy on Taiwan during a July 8-9 visit to Beijing.

According to an official traveling with Rice, she affirmed the “one-China policy,” which doesn’t support Taiwan’s independence, and repeated the Bush administration’s opposition to any change in Taiwan’s status.

“We are gravely concerned over the recent U.S. moves on the Taiwan question,” Sun said. “We strongly urge the U.S. side to stop selling advanced arms to Taiwan and cut the military links between the U.S. and Taiwan.”

Sun said the United States should also stop supporting Taiwan’s efforts to join international organizations where statehood is a membership requirement.

“Only in this way can the stable development of China-U.S. relations as well as the peace and stability across the Taiwan strait be guaranteed,” he said.

U.S. warned on ‘wrong signal’
Sun said the United States should avoid sending “the wrong signal” to Taiwan. China is concerned that U.S. support is encouraging activists who want to make Taiwan’s de facto independence permanent, a step that Beijing says could lead to war.

The United States has no formal relations with Taiwan, but Washington is its main arms supplier and military protector. Taiwan split from China after its communist takeover in 1949 and has been ruled separately since.

On Hong Kong, Sun said China has been acting in strict compliance with the territory’s mini-constitution, known as the Basic Law, which sets universal suffrage as an objective but does not specify a timetable.

“The principle of ’one country, two systems’ has been successfully implemented on all fronts in Hong Kong,” he said. “The people in Hong Kong are enjoying freedoms more than anytime in the past.”

He said in the past the United states had expressed support for the “country, two systems” policy and the Basic Law and urged the Americans to honor these commitments with deeds.

Tensions between Beijing and Hong Kong’s pro-democracy forces has peaked since China in April rejected Hong Kong people’s demands to elect their next leader in 2007 and all lawmakers in 2008.

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