China has warned Taiwan's main opposition party leader "against engaging in activities promoting the island's independence" as she is scheduled to visit the United States at the end of May.
Tsai Ing-wen is the chairwoman of the pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and a presidential contender in January elections. The visit is seen as a critical move before the election as she is expected to meet with government officials, congressmen and Taiwanese residents in the US.
The remarks by China's Taiwan Affairs Office came two weeks before the 12-day trip, repeating China's objection to attempts to gain support for independence abroad by any Taiwanese officials.
“We firmly oppose any person engaging in any form of 'Taiwan independence' separatist activities in the international arena," spokeswoman Fan Liqing told a regular news briefing.
China regards Taiwan as part of its territory waiting to be reunified since their split in 1949 at the end of the civil war between the Chinese Communist Party and the nationalist KMT. The United States has no longer has diplomatic ties to Taiwan, but is the country’s leading arms supplier.
However, since Taiwan's current president Ma Ying-jeou took office in 2008, enmity has declined considerably and the two sides have signed a number of trade and investment deals.
Tsai has pledged to maintain the status quo if she wins, but has refused to accept the "One China principle" as the basis for relations.