Beijing has warned the US against military contact with Taipei and “interference in China’s internal affairs,” after the island’s leader confirmed that a small number of US troops are stationed in Taiwan.

“We firmly oppose any form of official exchanges and military contacts between the United States and Taiwan, oppose US interference in China’s internal affairs, and attempts to provoke and stir up trouble,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said, during a press briefing on Thursday.

He also warned the US against underestimating China’s readiness to defend its national sovereignty and territorial integrity, noting that “the One China principle is the political foundation of China-US relations.”

Wang was speaking after Tsai Ing-wen became the first president of Taiwan in many years to confirm that American troops were helping train its armed forces. In an interview with CNN on Wednesday, she said Taipei had “a wide range of cooperation with the US,” with the aim of increasing the island’s defense capabilities. Tsai believes that, in the case of an attack from mainland China, the US would help Taiwan, “given the long-term relationship we have with the US.”

The US is one of Taipei’s key allies and its main supplier of military equipment via billions of dollars’ worth of defense contacts. It has also recently been sending unofficial diplomatic delegations to the island, and has maneuvered its ships through the Taiwan Strait. This has angered Beijing, which sees Taiwan as an integral part of its territory. China has responded by sending military aircraft into Taiwan’s air defense identification zone, and held massive-scale drills in the southern part of Fujian province, which is located directly across the Strait from the island.

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