China said Tuesday that its new law authorizing military force against rival Taiwan had been misunderstood by the United States.

"They don't fully understand the significance of this law," Chinese Foreign Ministry (search) spokesman Liu Jianchao said at a regular briefing.

"We reiterate that this law is a law for peace," Liu said. "It's conducive for maintaining cross-straits relations and the stability of the Asia-Pacific region and the growth of relations between China, Europe, the United States and other countries."

"If they realize that, they will not have other opinions on such a law," he added.

Washington on Monday denounced the law, saying that it "does not serve the cause of peace and stability" in the region.

White House press secretary Scott McClellan (search) said the law "runs counter to recent progress in cross-strait relations." U.S. State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said it "only serves to harden positions."

He said Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice (search) will voice her concerns about the law when she visits China this week.

China's parliament voted unanimously with two abstentions on Monday to enact the law, which authorizes force if Taiwan pursues formal independence.

The two sides split in 1949, but Beijing considers the democratic, self-ruled island to be Chinese territory.

Chinese leaders insist that the new law is meant to promote peaceful unification.

Liu also said that while the cross-straits situation is of interest to many countries, Taiwan is "the internal affair of China."