The Bush administration said Monday that China's (search) threat to use force to stop any Taiwanese move toward independence is an "unfortunate" development that could increase tensions in the region.
"We view the adoption of the anti-secession law as unfortunate," White House press secretary Scott McClellan said. "It does not serve the purpose of peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait (search). We believe it runs counter to recent progress in cross-Strait relations."
China's parliament on Monday, voting unanimously with two abstentions, enacted a law authorizing force if Taiwan pursues formal independence mainland China.
Taiwan and China split in 1949, but Beijing considers the democratic, self-ruled island to be Chinese territory. Beijing has threatened repeatedly to attack if Taiwan tries to make its de facto independence permanent.
Any outbreak of hostilities could ensnare the United States, which is Taiwan's biggest arms supplier and is bound by the Taiwan Relations Act (search) to help Taiwan defend itself. There are 50,000 U.S. troops in Japan and 35,000 in South Korea. Under Washington's one-China policy, the United States agrees to have no diplomatic ties with Taiwan and recognizes Beijing as China's sole government.
McClellan reiterated that policy, but said U.S. officials are dismayed at the threat of force.
"We oppose any attempts to determine the future of Taiwan by anything other than peaceful means," McClellan said. "We don't want to see any unilateral attempts that would increase tensions in the region. So this is not helpful."