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Taiwan faces new rout of China ties over controversial

AFP  |  Taipei 

Taiwan's already frosty relations with are set to cool further after the appointment of a controversial diplomat to handle cross-strait ties sparked a backlash.

still sees self-ruling as part of its territory and has been piling pressure on new president Tsai Ing-wen to acknowledge that there is only "one China".

It deeply mistrusts Tsai, whose Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) is traditionally pro-independence.

has cut official communications with Tsai, who took office in May and has not backed the "one China" concept - unlike her Beijing-friendly predecessor Ma Ying-Jeou.

In an act seen by critics as further agitating Beijing, Tsai's office announced late yesterday that Tien Hung-mao, who is known for his pro-independence stance, will head the key Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF).

SEF and its Chinese counterpart The Association for Relations Across the Straits are semi-official bodies set up to deal with issues too legally or politically delicate to be handled through official government channels.

Following the appointment, the top Chinese official in charge of ties urged the SEF to recognise that there is only one

"The key to the question is the political basis that authorises negotiations," Zhang Zhijun, head of China's Affairs Office, said in a statement.

The appointment of Tien could push cross-strait ties into a "dead-end alley", the Taipei-based Times newspaper quoted unnamed sources in as warning.

There was also a domestic backlash against Tien's appointment - one senior SEF advisor tendered his resignation today in protest.

Tien served as foreign minister under former DPP president Chen Shui-bian, who oversaw mounting tensions with during his 2000-2008 term over his policies promoting the island's independence.

and split in 1949 after a civil war but has repeatedly warned Taipei against seeking a formal breakaway.

Taiwan's minister on affairs defended Tien's appointment.

"We are showing goodwill to mainland as Tien is very familiar with affairs. He is pragmatic and rational," said Chang Hsiao-yueh, chairwoman of the Mainland Affairs Council.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Thu, September 01 2016. 21:42 IST